A British consulate worker who claims he was tortured in Chinese detention should report the allegations to China, Hong Kong’s justice minister has said.
Simon Cheng, who worked for the UK government in the former British territory, was arrested in August while returning from a trip to the mainland.
The Hong Kong citizen has alleged that secret police beat him, deprived him of sleep, forced him into stress positions and shackled him.
He accused them of trying to force him to give information about activists leading pro-democracy protests.
Justice minister Teresa Cheng, who is not related to the consulate worker, was asked about the case as she spoke to journalists for the first time since she was injured in London last week after being “besieged” by a group protesting against the Hong Kong government.
The justice minister appeared to draw parallels with her experience when asked whether she had raised Mr Cheng’s allegations with Beijing.
“I have reported my incident to the police as soon as that happened and I would encourage him to do the same with the relevant authorities in the mainland,” she said.
Asked if she was confident such a complaint could be launched, given Mr Cheng is accusing the Chinese police of torture, the minister said: “There is usually an avenue by which these matters can be aired.”
Hong Kong might also be about to provide a route, but Ms Cheng said she had not yet received any information on the abuse allegations.
“I am sure when the matter is brought to my attention I will be looking at it and seeing what can be done in so far as it is within the laws of Hong Kong and the jurisdiction of Hong Kong,” she said.
Pressed on what she personally thought about the allegations of abuse that he has made, she would not be drawn.
“There are many things that are often reported and sometimes it is extremely important to gather the whole facts, the veracity of it before any view is to be formed,” she said.
“I prefer to hold my opinion until I have the opportunity to collect and analyse whatever information or evidence that I have.”
Britain’s foreign secretary said the treatment Mr Cheng allegedly suffered amounted to torture and summoned the Chinese ambassador to discuss the case.
Mr Cheng was released in August after 15 days of detention in mainland China.
Authorities claimed he was detained for soliciting prostitutes, something China often uses against political targets.
Mr Cheng is a trade and investment officer in the Scottish Development International government agency, inside Britain’s consulate in Hong Kong.
He failed to return to work on 8 August after a business trip to Shenzhen, which links Hong Kong to the Chinese mainland.
The justice secretary also revealed details about how she dislocated and fractured her left wrist after allegedly being pushed to the floor by protesters when she tried to attend a meeting in London last week.
“I was pushed to the ground after being besieged on my way to the venue,” she said, describing the attack as being an “extension of Hong Kong’s protests”.
France strike: Protests turn violent as industrial action causes travel chaos | World News
Police have been seen dragging and beating protesters as demonstrations in Paris turned violent.
Officers deployed tear gas and used pepper spray as demonstrators threw projectiles and firecrackers.
More than 180,000 union members took to the streets as part of a general strike across the country which led to widespread chaos.
Thousands of protesters marched towards Place de la Nation into the evening.
French public sector workers began the walkouts on Thursday over President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to reform the nation’s pension system.
The president says the system is unfair and too costly. He wants a single, points-based system under which for each euro contributed, every pensioner has equal rights.
The current system allows rail workers, mariners and Paris Opera House ballet dancers to retire up to a decade earlier than the average worker.
Railway and airport workers, firefighters, teachers, truck drivers and medics are among those who joined the action.
Yellow vest protest groups, or “Gilets Jaunes”, who brought much of Paris to a halt last year, were also there.
The demonstrations began peacefully as protesters marched along the Boulevard de Magenta.
But the atmosphere shifted when protesters wearing black clothing and protective gear began smashing bus stops and store fronts near the Place de la Republique.
Police struggled to control a number of fires set by demonstrators in the area and had cordoned off the square by the early evening.
The action is expected to paralyse the nation for days, as flights, trains and buses face the biggest wave of industrial action the country has seen for decades.
There are no tickets available on Eurostar trains until Tuesday, with the company saying it has cancelled almost 100 services between now and then.
Airlines including Easyjet, British Airways and Ryanair have opted to cancel many of their flights to and from France, while Air France has said up to a third of its domestic flights would be cancelled.
Signs at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport showed “cancelled” notices.
A number of P&O Ferries services from Dover to Calais were delayed due to the industrial action.
The firm advised people to check its Twitter page for updates.
The SNCF railway company earlier said it expected nine out of 10 high-speed trains to be cancelled and said its services were “severely disrupted”.
Most of the subway system in Paris is also affected.
Commuters in Paris got out their bicycles, turned to carpooling apps or worked from home to avoid the crush on the limited train and metro services.
All businesses, cafes and restaurants along the route in Paris were ordered to close for the day by police.
Hotels across Paris have reported receiving cancellations from tourists who have decided against travelling to France during the industrial action.
“For 30 years successive governments have tried to bring reform and fail because the unions cripple the country,” said 56-year-old cafe owner Isabelle Guibal.
“People can work around it today and tomorrow, but next week people may get annoyed.”
Elsewhere around France, thousands of red-vested union activists marched through cities from Marseille on the Mediterranean to Lille in the north.
Riot police in Nantes, western France, fired tear gas at masked protesters who hurled projectiles at them.
In Lyon and Marseille, thousands more protesters carried banners that read: “Don’t touch our pensions”.
Ghislain Coutard, who started the yellow vest movement, told Sky News on Wednesday the protests could lead to a “new beginning” for his country.
“For me, it’s make or break. This is either a new beginning or it’s the end,” he said.
The national strike across France comes as thousands of rail passengers in southern England face misery as a 27-day walkout until New Year’s Day by South Western Railway staff entered its fourth day.
More than 140,000 killed by measles last year as number of cases rises | World News
An “unprecedented global measles crisis” caused more than 140,000 deaths last year, with most of those who died under five years old, new figures reveal.
Cases of measles are continuing to rise after more than doubling in 2018 compared with the previous year, according to a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Some countries which previously had high coverage rates or had eliminated the disease are seeing “devastating measles outbreaks” due to falling vaccination rates, Unicef said.
The charity added that although children in some areas are hard to vaccinate due to conflict or a breakdown in services, in other places some parents are not vaccinating their children “due to complacency, mistrust or misinformation about vaccines.”
Parents are being urged to vaccinate their children in places where vaccines are available, including the UK, while efforts are being stepped up in countries without ready access to the jabs.
The UK lost its measles-free status in August as cases rose sharply.
In 2017, the number of laboratory-confirmed cases in England was 259, but this more than tripled to 971 in 2018.
A further 532 cases were reported in England between January and June this year.
There has been a drop in vaccination rates for all nine vaccines given to children under the age of five in England, including the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab.
A charity leader has called the issue in the UK a “ticking time bomb” and said trust needs to be built with parents.
Liam Sollis, head of policy and advocacy at Unicef UK, said: “Vaccines are the safest and most effective preventative measures against highly infectious disease, but currently too many children are being put at unnecessary risk – with half a million children in the UK unvaccinated against measles.”
However, half of measles cases reported in 2018 were from five countries – the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Madagascar, Somalia and Ukraine.
Nearly 5,000 people have been killed by measles in the Democratic Republic of Congo so far this year, while close to a quarter of a million have been infected.
In recent weeks, more than 53 people have died in a measles outbreak in Samoa, 48 of whom were children.
The country declared a state of emergency on 20 November and has been placed on lockdown to contain the disease.
The director-general of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, called the worldwide measles deaths an “outrage” and a “collective failure to protect the world’s most vulnerable children.”
It is estimated more than 19m children worldwide did not have the first dose of the measles vaccine by their second birthday in 2018.
Briton brought back to life after six-hour cardiac arrest in Spain | World News
A British woman says it was a “miracle” she was revived after her heart stopped for six hours when she was caught in a snowstorm.
Teacher Audrey Schoeman collapsed while out walking in the Spanish Pyrenees last month and developed hypothermia before going into cardiac arrest.
Mrs Schoeman, 53, who lives in Spain but has a British passport, started “talking nonsense” as her eyes rolled back into her head and she stopped breathing, her husband Rohan said.
He added: “I thought she was dead.
“I was trying to feel a pulse… I couldn’t feel a breath, I couldn’t feel a heartbeat.”
Mrs Schoeman was airlifted to hospital, where her temperature was recorded as 18C (64.4F) – less than half what it should have been. Doctors could also not find any vital signs.
Medics at the Vall d’Hebron Hospital in Barcelona said Mrs Schoeman had suffered the longest cardiac arrest ever recorded in Spain, calling it an “exceptional case”.
Dr Eduard Argudo said: “She looked as though she was dead, but we knew that, in the context of hypothermia, Audrey had a chance of surviving.”
Hypothermia, although causing her body to shut down, also meant her brain and organs had been protected.
Dr Argudo added: “If she had been in cardiac arrest for this long at a normal body temperature, she would be dead.”
In hospital, she was put on a machine that removed her blood, re-oxygenated it, and then pumped it back into her body.
Then, once her body temperature had reached 30C (86F), she was switched to a defibrillator. It was then that her heart began working again, six hours after emergency services were called.
Speaking to local media, she said: “It’s like a miracle except that it’s all because of the doctors.”
“Probably this winter, I won’t go to the mountains, but I hope that in Spring we’ll be able to start hiking again. I don’t want this to take away that hobby.”
Mrs Schoeman was discharged from hospital 12 days after being admitted.
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