Home Return Permit - Incidents - Ching Cheong

Ching Cheong

In 2005, Ching Cheong (程翔), a Hong Kong-based journalist of the Singaporean newspaper The Straits Times, was arrested by the mainland national security authorities. He was accused of stealing "state secrets". The correspondent entered the mainland on his home return permit, while he is also a BN(O) passport holder. Since he is both PRC citizen, British National (Overseas), as well as a permanent resident of Singapore, some organisations, like the Hong Kong Journalists' Association and Reporters without borders, urged the British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw to intervene. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it had no plans to comment on the case. British officials have indicated that if there were any representations to be made, they would take place behind the scenes. A London spokesperson said: "We can offer consular assistance but we cannot interfere in the legal affairs of another country." The PRC central government never recognised his British National (Overseas) status. The PRC states that its citizens from Hong Kong cannot enjoy United Kingdom consular protection inside the PRC on the basis of their BN(O) or BC passports. The Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom stated that "Mr Ching is a British National (Overseas) passport holder and we have pressed the central authorities for information on the circumstances of his arrest and will continue to seek consular access as a matter of urgency, which so far has been denied." There are other cases that the British Government was asked to assist BN(O) passport holders detained inside the Chinese mainland.

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