Mainland Chinese authorities confirm they have detained three missing Hong Kong booksellers for an investigation into unspecified criminal activity, shedding more light on a case that has gripped residents with fear that Beijing is tightening its hold on the territory.
Hong Kong police said late on Thursday they were told by police in Guangdong Province about the men, who are among five people linked to a publishing house specializing in politically sensitive titles banned on the mainland to have vanished in recent months.
It is the latest development in a case that has sparked international concern that Beijing is backtracking on a promise it made when it took over from the UK nearly 20 years ago to let the territory retain a high degree of control over its own affairs.
The five are associated with publishing firm Mighty Current Media and its retail outlet, Causeway Bay Bookshop (銅鑼灣書店). The company’s books on political scandals and intrigue involving Chinese communist leaders are popular with Chinese visitors to Hong Kong.
The letter from the Guangdong’s public security department was the first time that mainland authorities had acknowledged holding Lui Por (呂波), Cheung Chi Ping (張志平) and Lam Wing Kee (林榮基), who are shareholders or employees of the company.
It said the three are suspected of involvement in a case involving a person surnamed Gui (桂), an apparent reference to Mighty Current publisher Gui Minhai (桂民海).
The four went missing in October last year, but Gui resurfaced last month, making a tearful appearance on Chinese state TV to say he surrendered over a 12-year-old fatal drunk driving case.
The three are suspected of being “involved in illegal activities on the mainland,” Hong Kong police said, citing a letter from Guangdong Provincial Security Department’s Interpol liaison office.
“Criminal compulsory measures were imposed on them and they were under investigation,” it said.
No details on the alleged crimes or their specific whereabouts were disclosed.
Gui, a Swedish national, disappeared from his holiday home in Pattaya, Thailand, while the three others went missing in mainland China. Hong Kong police also said they received a handwritten letter from the fifth missing person, editor Lee Bo (李波), in which he purportedly rejected a request to meet with them.
Lee, a British citizen, disappeared on Dec. 30 and many suspect he was abducted by mainland Chinese security agents operating in Hong Kong.
The European Parliament on Thursday called for the five to be immediately released, joining British, US and Swedish officials who have raised concerns over the case.
Dignitaries from 47 countries yesterday congratulated President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on the commencement of her second term and highlighted Taiwan’s achievements in democracy and its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sent his congratulations a day earlier. As of noon yesterday, 263 high-ranking officials from 47 countries and global organizations had congratulated Tsai via statements, letters, social media posts or recorded footage, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, while releasing a collection of footage sent by selected dignitaries. The governments of Taiwan’s 15 diplomatic allies sent their congratulations, as did the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy,
REASSURING NUMBERS: Taiwan’s test capacity ranks sixth or seventh among 91 nations, and is not low compared with other nations, Chen Shih-chung said The quarantine period for foreigners visiting Taiwan for business would vary based on the COVID-19 situation of the nation or territory that they are coming from, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday, as it reported the 13th consecutive day of no new cases. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, told reporters at the center’s daily briefing that modified rules covering foreign business visitors had been completed and were ready for him to sign. The complete details of the new rules would be released later this week, he said. Foreigners on long business trips would have
The Czech Republic’s Senate on Wednesday passed a resolution that supports a possible visit by the senate president to Taiwan. The resolution, initiated by Czech Senator Pavel Fischer, was passed with 50 votes in favor, one against and one abstention. The resolution blasts Beijing for having its Prague embassy send a letter to former Czech Senate president Jaroslav Kubera earlier this year threatening repercussions for Czech businesses if he visited Taiwan. The resolution shows the Senate’s support for a visit to Taiwan by Senate President Milos Vystrcil, accompanied by Czech business representatives, as the visit would be in the diplomatic long-term interests
The government and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday both spoke out against plans by the Chinese government to enact a national security law in Hong Kong. Chinese officials yesterday confirmed that the National People’s Congress would review a bill “on establishing and improving the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to safeguard national security.” The Presidential Office said that the announcement was evidence that the “one country, two systems” framework fundamentally clashes with democratic freedoms. The de-escalation of tensions between Hong Kong and Beijing relies on the Chinese government’s willingness to respond to Hong Kongers’ demands,