Law enforcement in Shenzhen told the Global Times that Simon Cheng Man-Kit, 28, was taken into custody and placed on administrative detention after he allegedly violated a law on public order regarding “solicitation of prostituion.”
Chinese officials have not publicly confirmed this, but on Wednesday Foreign Ministry spokesman Gen Shuang did say that Cheng was placed on a 15-day detention for violating regulations on “Punishments on Public Order and Security Administration.”
He said that Cheng’s arrest was “not a diplomatic issue” despite denying any knowledge of the incident a day earlier after British and Hong Kong media reported on it.
Cheng, who worked as a trade and investment officer with the Scottish Development International section of the consulate, was last seen on August 8 at a business event in the Chinese city that borders his resident Hong Kong.
British officials released a statement Tuesday confirming Cheng’s disappearance and stated that officials were “extremely concerned” that he had been detained in China.
Tensions have been rising between the British and Chinese governments in light of Cheng’s arrest. On Wednesday, Shuang issued a warning to British officials: "stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs."
He continued: “Regarding the series of words and deeds by the British side recently on Hong Kong-related issues, we have repeatedly lodged solemn complaints with the U.K.”
A top Chinese official doubled down on that sentiment, warning British Members of Parliament to stop spreading “false statements “ that have fueled “protests and riots in Hong Kong.”
In a letter obtained by the Daily Mail, former head of the Hong Kong government Leung Chun-ying said: “The immediate cessation of the liberal agenda would be optimal to ensure future successful relationship with China.”
He continued: “Should you seek to agitate matters further, the Chinese government will elaborate further with regards to future consequences.”
Weeks of heated protests between mainland China and Hong Kong over a bitter dispute involving political reform and police brutality were escalated after reports of Cheng’s arrest surfaced.