September 19, 2019
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China releases detained Hong Kong British consulate worker

Shanghai, China, Aug 24 (efe-epa).- The employee of the British Consulate-General Hong Kong, who was arrested in mainland China a fortnight ago, was released on Saturday, Chinese state media reported.

In a tweet, official daily Global Times quoting Shenzhen police said that Simon Cheng "has been released and returned to Hong Kong after two weeks of administrative detention”.

Chinese law allows suspects to be put in administrative detention for up to 15 days, which is often used against dissidents.

Cheng's family also confirmed his release in a message on Facebook and thanked everyone for their support, but the post was removed a few minutes later.

After the consulate worker had gone missing for nearly two weeks, on Wednesday China confirmed his arrest, with foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang alleging that Cheng had "violated the public security management regulations" of the country.

Geng did not provide more details about the detention of Cheng, who works in the Scottish Development International section of the British Consulate in Hong Kong.

He went missing on Aug. 8 while returning to Hong Kong from the neighboring Chinese city of Shenzhen on a high-speed train.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office had raised the alarm over the employee's disappearance in a statement which did not go down well with Beijing.

The Chinese spokesperson had insisted that Cheng was a "Hong Kong citizen; not a British citizen but a Chinese one," and called the matter "entirely China's internal affair" and not a diplomatic issue.

"We urge to the UK to stop interfering in our internal affairs and doing random criticism," Geng said.

Although the reasons behind Cheng's arrest are not clear, it comes at a time when Beijing has lashed out against foreign governments including the UK, alleging interference in its internal matters, especially with regards to the recurring mass protests in Hong Kong, a former British colony, in recent weeks. EFE-EPA

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