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China confirms the arrest of more than one person at a border checkpoint with Hong Kong

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — China announced Monday that it has arrested more than one person at a Chinese police checkpoint on a bridge linking Hong Kong to Macao, including a man from the former British colony who went missing on Saturday.

It is the first time that officers from mainland China have confirmed arrests on the artificial island run by the Chinese police, linking Hong Kong with Macau and the city of Zhuhai in China on the other side of the Pearl River Delta.

The man’s son reported to local media on Saturday that his father had sent a text message saying that he had been arrested while passing on an artificial island run by Chinese police and that he could not know what had happened to his father and told Hong Kong authorities that his father was missing.

On Monday, the police in Guangdong Province confirmed the arrest of the man.

In a statement on its official social media account, Guangdong police said the man, surnamed Chung, was one of an unknown number of wanted criminals who had been detained since the island’s checkpoint was established on December 10.

She added that the 53-year-old man was wanted by the Shenzhen Airport customs authorities on the issue of smuggling mobile phones seven years ago.

“Since the force began conducting security checks of individuals and vehicles heading to Macao and Gui through the bridge from Hong Kong, they have found a number of criminal suspects fleeing,” the Guangdong police said in their statement.

The man’s son, who asked not to be named, confirmed to AFP that the identity details provided by the police matched his father, adding that his family was not aware of the alleged smuggling crimes.

The arrest of Hong Kong citizens by China is always a controversial issue.

Six months ago, Hong Kong witnessed massive anti-Beijing demonstrations, often punctuated by violence.

The protests erupted mainly to protest against a plan put forward by the Hong Kong government that was later abandoned, allowing the extradition of wanted men to the mainland where many see the courts dominated by the Communist Party as lacking transparency.

The multi-billion dollar Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge was opened in 2018.

Tight security is usually not applied to the industrial island, which is under the authority of the Chinese mainland government, from which cars pass directly.

But the Chinese authorities set up a checkpoint early this month as Macao prepares to receive Chinese President Xi Jinping to celebrate Friday the 20th anniversary of Portugal’s return to China.

AFP correspondents passed through the checkpoint last Wednesday. It was run by dozens of heavily armed members of the Rapid Intervention Division. Luggage, faces and bus passenger documents were checked.

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