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Hong Kong Bookseller Gone Missing

imageBanned books raised an outcry. Imagine if you’re censored and arrested for publishing materials that are at odd with the government. Imagine Bill Clinton wants to persecute and imprison all those who breathed a world about Monica Lewinsky. This is what happens in Hong Kong, in 2016. The firm believers of “one country, two system” by which the former British colony is governed after its return to the embrace of motherland get a reality check as five staff members of a local bookseller disappeared. Vanished without a trace.

The Hong Kong publisher whose disappearance has caused a major rift between Hong Kong and Beijing has written to a colleague to say that he is across the border, in China, where he is “cooperating with the authorities with an investigation.” But close examination of his handwriting revealed that the note was not written in Lee Bo’s hand. The bookseller specializes in books critical of Beijing’s Communist Party leaders. His disappearance on Wednesday, December 30 looks increasingly like an illegal abduction by Chinese police, which has no jurisdiction in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.

In China, “assisting the authorities with an investigation” is equivalent to detention suspicion of criminal activity. Criminal activity can be criticizing party leaders and exposing corruption of state officials. The bookseller’s wife later went to the Hong Kong Police and withdrew of complaint of her husband’s mysterious disappearance. This, in my opinion, is very much a charade performed under duress. The bookseller’s disappearance is an assault on Hong Kong’s principles of freedom of expression and autonomy from Beijing.

3 Responses

  1. So terribly sad to see the rule of law being eroded in the wonderful old place. The British waited far too late to try and install some semblance of democracy before the turnover, although Christopher Patten tried his best at the end. But then again, it would probably have never mattered.

    I still have hope for the people of Hong Kong, but it will have to be the young people that somehow find a way to keep all from being lost.

  2. Thanks for sharing this. More people need to know about this around the world. As a former bookseller with friends who are also booksellers in Hong Kong, this hits a little close to home. It feels like something that’s out of an old KGB story – but it’s happening. Right now. And it’s scary.

  3. I had heard nothing about this in the news or maybe I am living in a bubble. Thanks for putting it on your blog. The world should be outraged over this. People should be free to speak and hard to believe that a book publisher would be treated this way. This is very scary.

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