A HONG KONG businessman plans to sue the Hunan authorities for ''illegal detention'' and withholding his passport. Dr Philip Cheng Hui-ho returned to the territory last night after having been kept in China for seven months in relation to an investment dispute with his Chinese partners. A Chinese American, Dr Cheng said yesterday he wanted to clear his name with the Hunan court for detaining him for six days under horrid conditions and withholding his passport until last Tuesday. Dr Cheng, 62, head of the Journalism and Communications Department of the Chinese University of Hong Kong before he went into business in 1991, said he would sue the Hunan court for ''illegal detention'' for the sake of improving China's judiciary system. Dr Cheng said he would seek legal advice in Hong Kong before pursuing the case in China. ''My case is a cumbersome one, but I think a legal issue is at stake. I will pursue it through legal proceedings,'' he said. His wife Marie said yesterday the fact the authorities had allowed her husband to leave the country did not mean the case was finished. ''The authorities have been wrong in this case,'' said Mrs Cheng, adding it was the couple's ''legal right'' to seek justice. Dr Cheng said he would pursue the battle until justice was done. ''I hope I can do something for the [legal] system. I hope my case would make people aware of the problem.'' he said. Dr Cheng is chairman of Zhuhai Golex, a bicycle-helmet factory in Zhuhai. The company was in partnership with a mainland company, the Hunan Arts and Crafts Import and Export Company. Dr Cheng's nightmare started last August as he was re-negotiating a business deal with his mainland partner in a hotel room in Changsha. Court security guards burst into the room and arrested him. His mainland partner accused him of misappropriating funds and demanded his investment of US$165,000 (HK$1,273,000) back. During a three-day interrogation in a guest house which doubled as a detention centre, Dr Cheng was told to return the sum immediately or face a jail term. His family said Dr Cheng was interrogated for three days and nights by as many as a dozen officials in a detention centre run by the brother-in-law of Dr Cheng's business partner. Dr Cheng, who is diabetic, was denied sleep and fainted repeatedly, according to his family. He was released on September 1, six days after his arrest but was told not to leave Changsha. The US Embassy in Beijing intervened on his behalf and Dr Cheng was allowed last October to leave Changsha for Zhuhai, where his factory is located. Dr Cheng said at one point he was told his passport would be returned to him on condition he was to ''forget all about the months of ordeal'' and pledge not to take legal action against the authorities. He refused to take up the offer. Last Friday, the Intermediary Court of Hunan came to the conclusion that the Hong Kong businessman ''had been wrongly arrested''. Dr Cheng said his passport was returned to him on Tuesday after a civil court in Hunan had examined other evidence. The American citizen admitted that he was able to get back the passport because of guanxi, a special relationship with the authorities. Sounding cheerful yesterday, Dr Cheng said, ''I feel great. Finally I am free and can be back home.'' Sharing the joy of her husband's home-coming, Mrs Cheng said she supported Dr Cheng's move against mainland authorities although they had returned the passport to him.