Hong Kong: disappearing booksellers… what’s going on?

04.01.2016 - Tony Henderson

Hong Kong: disappearing booksellers… what’s going on?
(Image by Joel Christian)

Joel Christian – @2legit2trip is a politically concerned HongKonger and student who announces he is local in Hong Kong but foreign in China. Active in the #UmbrellaMovement he attends protests and offers updates via Twitter, also with Vine and this morning January 4, 2016, he covered the current hot case of what appears to be kidnapping by mainland authorities of Hong Kong citizens.

“First time I’ve seen someone actually come out directly in person to respond to protesters in their face, without pepper spray or batons!” says Joel who twitted thus: “Civic Passion asking why a Hong Kong citizen could end up in Shenzhen for so long like this…” and was quite surprised when… “Representative from Immigration Tower just came out to speak to Civic Passion protesters… Someone actually responded , wow.”

A sign told it as: “Justice for Causeway Bay bookseller”. Earlier there was a stand-off outside a police station with… “Civic Passion attempting to enter police station…” A spokesman had shouted:” You’re Hong Kong police, not Communist Party police.

The ruckus was about five personnel that worked for a publishing house known for selling books critical of the Chinese government, four colleagues from the Mighty Current publishing house went missing in October (one in Thailand and two on the Chinese maianland). The latest casualty in the episode being the more well known Lee Bo (Liu Bo), of the Causeway Bay branch.

The nowadays notorious Apple Daily ran the news with further information, titled “Xi Jinping book poses link to bookshop owner’s disappearance”. The briefed story ran as follows: “The planned publication of a new book on President Xi Jinping and his historical links may be the reason behind the disappearance of Causeway Bay Books shareholder Lee Bo, who is suspected to have been taken out of Hong Kong by mainland security officials, according to Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China.”

AFP reported that Lee’s wife had said Saturday her husband told her he was “assisting in an investigation” in a phone call after he failed to return home for dinner Wednesday. She had reported him missing to police Friday and said the call he made to her was from a number in the neighbouring Chinese city of Shenzhen.

There is a rumour that this is happening because the publishing firm of the bookshop in Causeway Bay was about to launch a book about Xi’s former girlfriend from some years ago. And there were warnings given to the owners not to publish this book. The book has not yet gone to print.

This incident needs clarification from the authorities because, if true, it blights everything so far stated about the hands-off approach Beijing projects in relation to Hong Kong under the One Country Two Systems declaration that is in force until Hong Kong reverts in the full sense to China mainland rule.

However, what is taking place might indicate that non-serious sensationalist publishing that impacts respected leaders on the Chinese mainland are just beyond the toleration limits of the authoritarian regime. Point is, this divide that is polarising a section of Hong Kong society where young people like Joel feel that they have to declare  themselves HongKongers and not ‘Chinese’ is being fed by such episodes.  More openness would be so welcome by pro-Beijing and Pro-Hong Kong people.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Asia, Culture and Media
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