Canada stops Hong Kong consulate staff going to China

A supporter holds a poster of Simon Cheng Man-kit outside of the British Consulate in Hong Kong Credit: Vincent Yu/AP

The Canadian Consulate in Hong Kong has banned staff from travelling outside the city, including to mainland China.

The move comes days after a British Consulate worker was detained there.

The Chinese government’s announcement this week that Simon Cheng Man-kit has been detained in the city of Shenzhen has stoked tensions in Hong Kong, which has been gripped by months of anti-government protests.

The Canadian Consulate said in a statement on Friday: “At present, locally engaged staff will not undertake official business travel outside of Hong Kong.”

Simon Cheng Man-kit has been detained in China, authorities have confirmed. Credit: Facebook

It did not say whether the travel restriction was directly related to the detention of Mr Cheng, who went missing two weeks ago after going on a business trip to the mainland city from Hong Kong’s high-speed cross-border rail terminal.

China said this week that Mr Cheng had been placed in administrative detention for 15 days for violating public order regulations. It did not elaborate.

Mr Cheng has been working for the British Consulate since December 2017 as an international trade and investment officer for the Scottish Government. He and other local staff at consulates and embassies support diplomats but do not have diplomatic passports themselves.

A protester holds a sign reading ‘God bless Hong Kong’ during a demonstration by students and others at Edinburgh Place in Hong Kong Credit: Vincent Yu/AP

The Canadian government also updated its travel advice for China on Thursday to warn of stepped-up border checks on phones.

“Increased screening of travellers’ digital devices has been reported at border crossings between mainland China and Hong Kong,” the advisory said.

There have been increasing reports that Chinese immigration officers are inspecting phones for photos related to the Hong Kong protests.