UK consulate worker held in China says he was tortured

Simon Cheng's job was to promote Chinese investment in Scotland. Picture: BBC
Simon Cheng's job was to promote Chinese investment in Scotland. Picture: BBC
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A former employee of the British Consulate in Hong Kong says he was detained and tortured by Chinese secret police trying to extract information about massive anti-government protests in the territory.

Simon Cheng, whose job was promoting Chinese investment in Scotland, said in an online statement and media interviews that he was hooded, beaten, deprived of sleep and chained to an X-shaped frame by plainclothes and uniformed agents as they sought information on activists involved in the protests and the role they believed Britain played in the demonstrations.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab summoned the Chinese ambassador in London in protest.

“I summoned the Chinese Ambassador to express our outrage at the brutal and disgraceful treatment of Simon in violation of China’s international obligations,” Raab said in a statement. “I have made clear we expect the Chinese authorities to investigate and hold those responsible to account.”

Chinese police in August announced Mr Cheng’s release after 15 days of administrative detention but gave no details of the reasons behind his detention.

China’s foreign ministry responded angrily to the allegations and the summoning of the ambassador at a daily briefing yesterday.

Ambassador Liu Xiaoming will “by no means accept the so-called concerns or complaints raised by the British side,” said ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.

In his account on Facebook, Mr Cheng wrote that he had been asked about whether Britain was promoting pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, and his own involvement in them.

He wrote that while being held he was shuttled between detention and interrogation centres while hooded and handcuffed. In addition to being shackled to the frame, he wrote he was ordered to assume stress positions for “countless hours”, and was beaten with what felt like “sharpened batons” and poked in the knee if he faltered. He was also punished for dozing off during the sessions by being forced to sing the Chinese national anthem.

“I was blindfolded and hooded during the whole torture and interrogations, I sweated a lot, and felt exhausted, dizzy and suffocated,” Mr Cheng wrote.

Mr Cheng no longer works at the consulate and has fled to a third country. Mr Raab said the UK is working to support him, including a possible move to Britain.