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British govt worker 'detained in China' after telling girlfriend to 'pray for me'

The Foreign Office has said it is “extremely concerned” following reports a British consulate official was detained in China after telling his girlfriend to “pray for me”.

Simon Cheng Man-Kit has not been seen for 10 days after he failed to return to work after a business trip to Shenzhen in China on 8 August.

The 28-year-old is a trade and investment officer in the UK’s consulate in Hong Kong. He works in the Scottish Development International section.

Unconfirmed reports suggest he was detained in China while returning to Hong Kong – where there have been mass anti-government protests for months.

He was on his way back on a high-speed train when he called his girlfriend and told her he was approaching the border when he lost contact, according to HK01. “Pray for me,” he added.

He has since been reported as a “missing person”, the news website said.

A spokesperson for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We are extremely concerned by reports that a member of our team has been detained returning to Hong Kong from Shenzhen.

“We are providing support to his family and seeking further information from authorities in Guangdong Province and Hong Kong.”

Shenzhen, in southeastern China, links Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland.

Mr Cheng Man-Kit’s disappearance comes amid pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong which started almost three months ago.

Initially, the demonstrations were over a now-suspended bill that would allow criminal suspects in Hong Kong to be extradited to mainland China.

But broader concerns about the erosion of freedoms under the “one country, two systems” formula – enacted after Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997 – are now part of a series of concerns.

The protesters want democratic reforms and the city’s Beijing-backed leader, Carrie Lam, to resign.

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