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‘Stop Meddling In Hong Kong Affairs’: China Acknowledges Detention Of Missing Hong Kong British Consulate Employee

China acknowledged the detention of a Hong Kong British consulate employee Wednesday who was reported missing to police Aug. 9.

Simon Cheng’s family said the 28-year-old did not return from a business trip to Shenzhen Aug. 8 in a Wednesday Facebook post, saying, “We feel very helpless and are worried sick about Simon. We hope Simon can return to Hong Kong as soon as possible,” according to NPR.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Geng Shuan, said at a daily briefing that Shenzhen police detained Cheng for 15 days by for violating public order regulations but did not provide further details, saying that because Cheng is Chinese, his detention “is entirely a matter of China’s internal affairs.”

Cheng was born in Hong Kong but holds a British national overseas passport, which allows for consular representation outside China, The Associated Press reported.

Despite insisting Cheng’s detention is “not a diplomatic issue,” Geng said, “Britain has made a series of wrong statements on Hong Kong. We again urge them to stop gesticulating and to stop fanning the flames.”

“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.,” Geng said, adding that the U.K., which has expressed support for peaceful Hong Kong protesters, should “stop meddling in Hong Kong affairs.”

Max Chung, a friend of Cheng’s, said he and his friends believe Cheng was detained at a high-speed railway station in a Hong Kong city called West Kowloon, where passengers must go through Chinese immigration and customs and Mainland law still applies to those who pass through.

Cheng’s last message to his girlfriend before passing through the border was, “Pray for me,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

“Every Hong Kong person would be nervous going through that border now. Nobody knows what would make them take you,” Cheng’s girlfriend said, according to WSJ.

The U.K. Foreign Office responded to Cheng’s disappearance in a Tuesday statement, saying it is “extremely concerned by reports” that Cheng was “detained returning to Hong Kong from Shenzhen,” NBC News reported.

Cheng’s detention comes during the 12th consecutive week of both peaceful and violent protests held by Hong Kong residents in protest of a bill that aims to extradite Hong Kong criminal suspects to China while they are tried. Many protesters waved British and American flags, during demonstrations to show their desire for Western-style government systems.

The U.K., United States and other countries have called on China to respect its “one country, two systems” rule with Hong Kong.

It is unclear whether Cheng’s detention is related to protests.

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