By Jerome A. Cohen
This story in Global Times that the UK Consulate General employee Simon Cheng was detained for dallying with a prostitute was astounding. What a sensational mystery!
Cheng reportedly has been released today and returned to Hong Kong, after 15 days since his August 8 detention. I hope he will have the opportunity to make public his version of events. So many questions to answer.
If, as reported by his girlfriend, he was on a one-day visit to Shenzhen for a trade meeting on behalf of the UK Consulate General and if he was anxious about his prospects for being permitted to return to HK that night, when did the alleged contact with a prostitute occur? Was it a lunchtime quickie? A taxi rendezvous? A post-prandial digestif? A Soviet-style ”honey trap”? Could Cheng actually be guilty of such a colossal misjudgment?
Why did it take the Shenzhen police 13 days to come out with this story of what they now claim is the most ordinary type of tawdry violation?
Why did Cheng receive a sentence of 15 days rather than 5 or 10? Was he also fined?
What roles did his lawyer, UK consular authorities and the Hong Kong Government play? Was there an attempt to obtain court review?
Did the Shenzhen police and Ministry of Foreign Affairs comply with relevant law and agreements about timely notice of detention to the Hong Kong Government and to family? Will the police give the usual excuse that to have done so would have interfered with the investigation of the case?
Wasn’t there a case some years ago where the Shenzhen area authorities locked up a rising young HK politician for six months on a prostitution charge so that he couldn’t take part in a scheduled election? That case at least seemed less implausible than this one.
If the PRC is caught staging a phony charge in this one, it would be the scandal and laughing stock of the world, a risk that it would be unlikely to take after almost two weeks of consideration. What a case!! I wish I could join Cheng’s questioners today!