Britain fumes as ex-consulate employee alleges China torture

Britain summons ambassador, demands thorough investigation

Beijing, November 20

A former employee of the British Consulate in Hong Kong has accused the Chinese secret police of torturing him while trying to extract information about the massive anti-government protests in the territory.

Simon Cheng 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 to demand Beijing investigate. "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 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 on Wednesday. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming will “by no means accept the so-called concerns or complaints raised by the British side,” ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said.

"The Chinese ambassador to the UK will lodge the complaints with the UK to express our strong opposition and indignation to the UK's wrong words and deeds on Hong Kong in these days," Geng said. Geng did not address Cheng's allegations directly, but cited a statement by Shenzhen police from August saying his lawful rights had been protected and that he had “admitted his offense completely," an apparent reference to a confession of soliciting prostitution that Cheng says was coerced. Cheng has strongly denied the charge. Police in Shenzhen did not immediately respond to faxed questions about Cheng's allegations. Cheng worked for the consulate as a trade and investment officer with a focus on attracting Chinese investment in Scotland. That required him to travel frequently to mainland China and he was detained at the border with Hong Kong after returning from a one-day business trip. Hong Kong's nearly six months of pro-democracy protests began in opposition to proposed legislation that would have allowed criminal suspects in the semi-autonomous city to be extradited to face trial in mainland China, where critics say their legal rights would be threatened. While Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has since withdrawn the bill, demonstrations have continued unabated as strong anti-government sentiment continues. — AP

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