A HONG KONG man has been held hostage by the Public Security Bureau (PSB) in the Chinese province of Jiangsu because his son owes money to a company in Huaiyin city, it was revealed yesterday. The plight of 'Mr O', a permanent Hong Kong resident, was among at least four cases taken up by British Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd when he met his Chinese counterpart, Qian Qichen, in New York at the end of September. Statements about the meeting had mentioned only that Mr Hurd would raise the case of Ming Pao reporter Xi Yang, who is serving a 12-year jail term for 'stealing financial secrets'. The other cases brought up involved the Hong Kong boss of the Shenzhen Zhili factory, Lo Chiu-chuen, and a Mr 'M', apparently referring to Australian businessman James Peng Jiandong. Lo was accused of ignoring fire safety, leading to the death of 87 workers, and is awaiting a verdict from his trial. Peng's open trial in Shenzhen for alleged corruption and embezzlement ended last week. Mr O is the only Hong Kong resident still under detention in China without any formal prosecution or trial. His plight was disclosed in a Security Branch report to the Legislative Council on the 16 people who have been detained by the mainland authorities during the past three years. Identities have been kept secret at the request of families. According to the Security Branch, Mr O was detained on June 20 this year because of an unspecified amount of money his son owed to a company in Huaiyin. 'His family says that Mr O was unaware of the [financial] transaction,' the submission says. The Government has been seeking an official explanation from the mainland authorities but there has been no response since the first request was made in August. In September, Mr O's family was told that he was still being detained by the company and would be released only after the debt had been paid. However, the Government later received a reply from China saying that Mr O's case would be handed by the PSB to the local procuratorate for a decision on whether to lay a formal charge. According to the submission, 15 out of 16 Hong Kong detainees had travelled to China on business. The only exception was Xi Yang. Most of the detentions related to commercial activities in the mainland. 'Mr A' was asked to pay one million yuan (HK$908,000) to secure his release by the PSB in Hangzhou. He was detained in July 1991 after goods on his lorry were stolen. He was released in August 1991 after paying part of the money but his brother and two employees were detained for at least another three months before they were allowed back to Hong Kong. Secretary of Security Alistair Asprey said in the Legco document that information would be sought through the Office of the Political Adviser and sometimes via the British Embassy in Beijing or the Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Office in London. In serious cases, the subjects would be raised in ministerial-level meetings. Mr Asprey admitted that it would be difficult to offer embassy protection to most of the detainees because they entered China on home return permits. 'According to the Chinese law, these people are regarded as Chinese nationals and the British Embassy is not allowed to conduct meetings with them,' he said in the submission.