A Chilling Effect As Hong Kong’s Missing Bookseller Cases Go Unresolved

Feb 23, 2016

Photo credit: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images

By Anthony Kuhn

Five Hong Kong booksellers disappeared and later turned up in police custody on mainland China, and nearly two months later, Chinese authorities have yet to explain how they got there.

Foreign governments and the United Nations have expressed concern about the disappearances. The British government went so far as to assert that one bookseller had been “involuntarily removed” — basically kidnapped — from Hong Kong.

In Hong Kong, the chilling effect of the disappearance cases has been most clearly felt in the publishing industry, which normally enjoys freedom of the press not found on the mainland.

Some publishers and authors have lost confidence in Hong Kong’s autonomy and left the territory. Others, like Bao Pu, the founder of the New Century Press, had little confidence to lose.

“I didn’t have the faith that the Hong Kong government or Hong Kong police would protect me,” Bao says. “So I knew the risk and, as far as the risk is concerned, that hasn’t changed.”

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2 comments on “A Chilling Effect As Hong Kong’s Missing Bookseller Cases Go Unresolved

  • It looks like four of them have turned on TV!


    Four of the five missing Hong Kong booksellers have appeared on Chinese TV, saying they have been detained for “illegal book trading” on the mainland.

    The men said they had sold 4,000 “unauthorised” books to 380 customers in mainland China, Phoenix TV reported.

    The five men, who disappeared late last year, worked at a publishing house that sold books critical of China’s leaders.

    Some people in Hong Kong believe they were detained by China because of a book about President Xi Jinping.

    Four of the men from Mighty Current publishing house, Gui Minhai, Lui Bo, Lam Wingkei and Cheung Jiping, gave details of their alleged offences during their appearance on Phoenix TV (in Chinese) on Sunday.

    Mr Gui, a Swedish national, said he had concealed the books in bags to “evade” customs and was identified by the other detainees as having been in charge of the operation.

    Mr Lui said: “I have deeply reflected on what I have done and very much regret the illegal book trading I have carried out with Gui Minhai.”

    Meanwhile, Mr Lam said the books’ content had been “fabricated”.

    “They were downloaded from the Internet, and were pieced together from magazines. They have generated lots of rumours in society and brought a bad influence.”

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  • my brother who taught English in China for 15 years told me of the many different things that were happening, people students going missing, & no one knows where or why, just that they spoke out against the government, China is not a friend of openness nor democracy, not when it was run by emperors/empresses/rival clans nor today’s political regime.

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