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Updated: 14th January 2020 20:58 World

Employee at Britain's Hong Kong mission detained in China over prostitution concerns

China's Foreign Ministry said an employee from the British Consulate in Hong Kong is being detained in China on "administrative detention" for alleged involvement in prostitution.

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Simon Cheng has been detained for days in the Chinese city of Shenzhen after attending a conference

The Free Simon Cheng Facebook page posted this portrait of Cheng, who is being held in a facility in Shenzhen after being accused of involvement with prostitution, says the Chinese Foreign Ministry. (Free Simon Cheng/Facebook)

China's Foreign Ministry said an employee from the British Consulate in Hong Kong is being detained in China on "administrative detention" for alleged involvement in prostitution.

The ministry confirmed Wednesday that Simon Cheng had been detained in the border city of Shenzhen. Britain has expressed its extreme concern about the case.

In a report on its English-language website, the Global Times, published by the ruling Communist Party's official People's Daily, cited Shenzhen police as saying Cheng had been detained for 15 days for "solicitation of prostitution."

Police in Shenzhen's Luohu district said Cheng had violated Article 66 of the law on administrative penalties for public security, the newspaper said.

The law stipulates people who engage in prostitution or visit prostitutes shall be detained for no less than 10 days but no more than 15 days, and may also be fined 5,000 yuan (about $937 Cdn).

Shenzhen police referred Reuters to the Global Times report, saying it contained all the relevant details, and declined to comment further.

Cheng did not return to work on Aug. 9 after visiting Shenzhen the previous day, Hong Kong news website HK01 reported, citing an interview with his girlfriend and family.

Cheng's family confirmed his disappearance in a Facebook post on Tuesday night, saying he travelled from Hong Kong to Shenzhen on the morning of Aug. 8 for a business trip.

Hong Kong has been gripped by anti-government protests in recent weeks, with China accusing Britain and other Western countries of meddling in its affairs.

Britain, the United States and other countries have urged China to respect the one-country, two-systems formula under which Hong Kong returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997.

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