Thursday, 22 August 2019

Alleged Trumped-up Charges

Simon Cheng has been charged with soliciting prostitution. True or false?
Today is the 15th day of Simon Cheng Man-kit's administrative detention in Shenzhen and unfortunately the nightmare for the 28-year-old isn't over yet. This afternoon Chinese state media outlet Global Times claimed the missing British consulate employee was charged with soliciting a prostitute during his visit to the mainland.

In the editorial, the state-run media outlet said police in Luohu district, which is the area right by the border with Hong Kong, told Global Times that Cheng was being detained for violating article 66 of the Law of the People's Republic of China on Penalties for Administration of Public Security which includes soliciting prostitutes.

Global Times claims to have an exclusive on Cheng's case
"It is disgraceful to be caught for soliciting prostitutes. Those who are arrested usually wish to hide the truth," the editorial says, and claims Cheng requested to Shenzhen police not to inform his family about his charge.

"In other words, if the British foreign ministry and Western media did not hype it, Cheng could have quietly returned to Hong Kong after being detained for 15 days... However, thanks to the British foreign ministry and media which have been hyping it, the case is now fully exposed."

Cheng's family would not comment on the matter, only to say people can judge for themselves.

First of all -- why would Cheng go during the day to visit a prostitute on a weekday when the consulate said he was there for a business conference. Second of all, if he was soliciting a prostitute, why wasn't he arrested at the scene of the crime and not at the mainland jurisdiction of the West Kowloon high-speed rail terminus?

Cheng worked at the British consulate in Hong Kong
Thirdly, what does hyping Cheng's case have to do with the consulate and Western media? Isn't China supposed to follow rule of law regardless? Trying to put the blame on the British consulate and the media on his detention doesn't make any sense at all.

And fourthly, it's state media that has exposed the alleged charge of soliciting prostitution, not the consulate or the media. It has now sullied Cheng's reputation in the court of public opinion.

If China wants to show that it is a responsible power then it should be more transparent about the whole case to demonstrate it does follow rule of law.

However it refused to divulge the whereabouts of Cheng for almost two weeks and now he seems to be arrested on trumped-up charges.

Apparently Cheng is being held by Luohu police in Shenzhen
This only frightens people even more about going to the mainland. Their phones may be checked and now they could be detained and then arrested on any charge.

This is what Hongkongers were terrified about with the now suspended extradition bill, and these concerns are fast becoming a reality -- without the bill being passed.

And yet China wants young Hongkongers to embrace the Motherland and go there to develop their careers? Cheng's case is hardly reassuring.

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