EU demands ‘proper response’ over arrest of Western staffer in China

EU demands ‘proper response’ over arrest of Western staffer in China

The European Union has demanded a proper response from Chinese authorities over the arrest of a local employee at its Beijing mission, who has been held for eight months.

The EU Delegation in China staffer was arrested by police in September 2021, the bloc confirmed in an emailed statement.

Despite multiple requests by our side to the Chinese authorities, we have not been informed of the allegation s nor of the specific charges, EU spokeswoman Nabila Massrali said.

We will continue to enquire until we get a proper answer. Massrali said the EU was concerned about his well-being French newspaper Le Monde originally reported that an IT department employee identified as An Dong was arrested on suspicion of picking quarrels and provoking trouble - a vague charge that was often used to stifle dissent that carried a maximum of five years' imprisonment.

The report stated that the EU had sent three written communiques to Chinese authorities demanding further information about his alleged offences and that he be allowed access to a lawyer of his choice.

The Chinese national is believed to be held in the southwestern Sichuan province of thousands of kilometres from Beijing.

An employee of a Western diplomatic mission in China is being arrested in a rare case.

Simon Cheng, a former local staffer at the British Consulate in Hong Kong, claimed he was tortured by Chinese police in 2019 after being detained for 15 days during a business trip to the mainland.

The former Canadian diplomat Michael Kovrig was jailed in China for almost three years on charges of espionage in apparent retaliation for Canada's arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou over fraud charges.

In September 2021, Kovrig was freed, along with another Canadian arrested around the same time.

Since the Pandemic, China-EU ties have deteriorated, with the two powers trading sanctions over a variety of rights issues.

The EU accused China of economic coercion over an unofficial trade embargo of Lithuania, launched a few days after the Baltic country allowed Taiwan to open a representative office.

More recently, the EU warned China not to give financial backing to Russia as it begins its bloody invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.