A Hong Kong publisher, who was due to release a dissident’s book about Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平), has been detained in China for almost three months, a report said yesterday.
Yao Wentian (姚文田), the 73-year-old chief editor of Morning Bell Press, was surrounded by a dozen plain-clothes security agents and detained in late October last year after he was “lured” to Shenzhen, the South China Morning Post said.
Citing sources close to Yao’s wife, the report said Yao was being held in a detention center and police have not disclosed the charges against him, which may include smuggling and evasion of import tariffs.
Yao was working with US-based author and dissident Yu Jie (余杰) to publish his book Chinese Godfather Xi Jinping.
“I think his work on my Xi Jinping book is the main reason why he’s been detained,” Yu told the Post, adding that Yao disappeared just as the book was about to be published.
Morning Bell Press was not available for comment when contacted by reporters yesterday.
Yu had said on Facebook that the first draft of his book on Xi was complete and was expected to be released in April.
Yu had previously authored China’s Best Actor: Wen Jiabao (溫家寶), a scathing critique on the nation’s former premier.
In 2012, Yao complained to Google, saying his Gmail account had been hacked while he prepared to release Yu’s Hu Jintao: Harmony King (胡錦濤), a book on China’s former president.
Censored Chinese books have become a big seller in the former British colony of Hong Kong.
China came 173rd in a press freedom ranking of 179 countries issued by the advocacy group Reporters Without Borders last year, climbing one place on the previous year.