Scottish Government trade official ‘detained by China’

The Foreign Office has expressed concern following reports a trade official linked to the Scottish Government has been detained at the border between Hong Kong and China.

A general view of Hong Kong. Picture: PA/File

Local media reported yesterday that Simon Cheng Man-kit, a member of staff at the British Consulate in Hong Kong, went missing on August 8 after he travelled to a business event in Shenzhen via the Lo Wu immigration control point.

Mr Cheng, whose LinkedIn profile states he is a representative of the Scottish Government, is a permanent resident of Hong Kong.

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The Foreign Office said it was “seeking further information from authorities in Guangdong Province and Hong Kong”.

The Scottish Government said it was concerned for Mr Cheng’s welfare and was liaising with the Foreign Office.

Mr Cheng is understood to be a trade and investment officer at the Scottish Development International section of the British Consulate.

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However, when he failed to return to work following his trip to Shenzhen, his family, including his girlfriend Li, informed the police.

Li, who met Mr Cheng when they were both studying in the UK, told news outlet HK01 that he had contacted her shortly before the border crossing.

She shared screenshots of messages from Mr Cheng on WeChat, which is believed to be monitored by the Chinese government, as well as a conversation on WhatsApp.

“Ready to pass through the border,” one WhatsApp message read at 10.40pm. Mr Cheng added: “Pray for me.”

Mr Cheng then added in a message on WeChat: “Passing through, pray for me.”

It has also been reported by HK01 that he told colleagues during the business trip to delete WeChat before they crossed the border back into Hong Kong.

Hong Kong authorities confirmed he had not been arrested in the territory before it was discovered he had been detained in China.

Increased security measures are in place at the border between Hong Kong and China, as Beijing looks to clamp down on anti-government protests in Hong Kong which it has called “close to terrorism”.

Mr Cheng’s LinkedIn profile states that he is “determined in a way for Hong Kong to deploy influence on an economic cooperation between Europe, UK, Scotland and China”.

He described his role at the consulate as handling “enquiries as a representative of the Scottish Government”, as well as working “with Scottish companies to support their trade in Hong Kong and South China”.

A Scottish Government spokesman added: “We are aware of this incident and we are concerned for Mr Cheng’s welfare.

“We are liaising with the FCO and the authorities in Guangzhou and Hong Kong.