Employee of Britain’s Hong Kong mission held in China over prostitution -report

his photo provided by Wilson Li shows Simon Cheng Man-kit, second left, a resident of Hong Kong. China said Simon Cheng Man-kit, a staffer at the British consulate in Hong Kong, has been given 15 days of administrative detention in the neighboring mainland city of Shenzhen for violating regulations on public order, Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2019. (AP)
Updated 22 August 2019
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Employee of Britain’s Hong Kong mission held in China over prostitution -report

  • Police in Shenzhen’s district of Luohu said Cheng had violated article 66 of the law on administrative penalties for public security

BEIJING: An employee of the British consulate in Hong Kong has been detained in China for involvement in prostitution, the state-backed Global Times newspaper said on Thursday, as Britain said it continued to urgently seek information.
China’s foreign ministry confirmed on Wednesday that the employee, Simon Cheng, had been detained in the border city of Shenzhen neighboring Hong Kong.
In a report on its English-language website, the paper, published by the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, cited Shenzhen police as saying Cheng had been detained for 15 days for “solicitation of prostitution.”
Police in Shenzhen’s district of Luohu said Cheng had violated article 66 of the law on administrative penalties for public security, it added.
The law provides for those who engage in prostitution, or who visit prostitutes, to be detained for a period ranging from 10 to 15 days, and they may also be fined 5,000 yuan ($705.15).
Shenzhen police referred Reuters to the Global Times report, saying it contained all the relevant details, and declined to comment further.
In a statement, Britain’s Foreign Office said it was continuing to “urgently seek further information about Simon’s case.”
It added, “Neither we nor Simon’s family have been able to speak to him since his detention. That is our priority and we continue to raise Simon’s case repeatedly in China, Hong Kong and London and have sought to make contact with Simon himself.”
Cheng did not return to work on Aug. 9 after visiting the mainland city of Shenzhen the previous day, Hong Kong news website HK01 said, citing an interview with his girlfriend and family.
Cheng’s family confirmed his disappearance in a Facebook post on Tuesday night, saying he traveled from Hong Kong to Shenzhen on the morning of Aug. 8 for a business trip.
Hong Kong has been gripped by anti-government protests in recent weeks, with China accusing Britain and other Western countries of meddling in its affairs.
Britain, the United States and other countries have urged China to respect the “one country, two systems” formula under which Hong Kong returned from British to Chinese rule in 1997.


North Korea faces lowest crop harvest in 5 years, widespread food shortages -UN

Updated 20 September 2019

North Korea faces lowest crop harvest in 5 years, widespread food shortages -UN

  • South Korea has pledged to provide 50,000 tons of rice aid to its northern neighbor through the UN World Food Programme
  • Sporadic famines are common in North Korea, although a severe nationwide famine in the 1990s killed as many as a million people

SEOUL: North Korea’s crop production this year is expected to drop to its lowest level in five years, bringing serious shortages for 40 percent of the population, as a dry spell and poor irrigation hit an economy already reeling from sanctions over its weapons programs, the United Nations said on Thursday.
In its latest quarterly Crop Prospects and Food Situation report, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said the poor harvest of the country’s main crops, rice and maize, means 10.1 million people are in urgent need of assistance.
“Below-average rains and low irrigation availability between mid-April and mid-July, a critical period for crop development, mainly affected the main season rice and maize crops,” the FAO said. The report, which covers cereal supply and demand around the world and identifies countries that need external food aid, didn’t disclose detailed estimates of production by volume.
North Korea has long struggled with food shortages and a dysfunctional state rationing system, and state media has in recent months warned of drought and other “persisting abnormal phenomena.”
The crops shortfall comes as the country bids to contain the spread of African swine fever in its pig herd, following confirmation of a first case in May.
The disease, fatal to pigs though not harmful to humans, has spread into Asia — including South Korea — since first being detected in China last year, resulting in large-scale culls and reduced production of pork, a staple meat across the region including in North Korea.
The FAO report followed earlier UN assessments this year that the isolated country’s food production last year fell to its lowest level in more than a decade amid a prolonged heatwave, typhoon and floods.
South Korea has pledged to provide 50,000 tons of rice aid to its northern neighbor through the UN World Food Programme (WFP). But its delivery has been delayed by Pyongyang’s lukewarm response amid stalled inter-Korean dialogue and denuclearization talks with the United States, Seoul officials said.
In July, the North’s official KCNA news agency said a campaign to mitigate the effects of drought was under way by digging canals and wells, installing pumps, and using people and vehicles to transport water.
But North Korea has told the United Nations to cut the number of its staff it deploys in the country for aid programs. citing the “politicization of UN assistance by hostile forces.”
Sporadic famines are common in North Korea, but observers said a severe nationwide famine in the 1990s killed as many as a million people.