Tue, Feb 06, 2018 - Page 5 News List

Daughter’s worries grow over Swedish bookseller who was abducted in China

AFP, HONG KONG

The daughter of missing Swedish publisher Gui Minhai (桂民海), who was snatched in China last month, said that she fears she might never see him again and has urged the international community to take action.

Gui was arrested on a train to Beijing just more than two weeks ago while accompanied by two Swedish diplomats — the second time he has disappeared in murky circumstances into Chinese custody.

His daughter, Angela Gui, 23, told reporters that she had heard nothing from him since and had received no information about where he might be.

“There are all sorts of awful scenarios that could be unfolding,” she said, speaking from England, where she is a student.

The US and EU have called for Gui Minhai’s immediate release, and his disappearance has sparked a diplomatic row between Stockholm and Beijing.

However, Chinese authorities have so far publicly parried requests for information, suggesting only that Swedish diplomats had somehow violated Chinese law.

Civil society has come under increasing pressure since Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) took office in 2012, with authorities rounding up hundreds of lawyers and activists.

“I just hope that Sweden and other governments will be as vocal as possible,” Angela Gui said. “I want them to demonstrate actual consequences, instead of just repeating how unacceptable it is.”

It is the second time that 53-year-old Gui Minhai, who was born in China, but went on to become a Swedish citizen, has been snatched.

He first disappeared in 2015, one of five Hong Kong-based booksellers known for publishing gossipy titles about Chinese political leaders who went missing and resurfaced in China.

Gui Minhai vanished while on holiday in Thailand and eventually surfaced at an undisclosed location in China, confessing to involvement in a fatal traffic accident and smuggling illegal books.

Chinese authorities declared that they had released him in October last year, but his daughter said he was under “loose house arrest” in the eastern city of Ningbo, where some of his relatives still live.

Angela Gui told reporters that she had spoken to her father on Skype multiple times a week in the past three months and that he was able to move around the city, but was followed by police.

He had been allowed to go to the Swedish consulate in Shanghai three times to apply for documentation, including a new passport, and Angela Gui said she did not believe he had been told explicitly to stay in Ningbo.

Angela Gui graduated from England’s Warwick University with a master’s degree the day before her father disappeared again and had spoken to him ahead of the ceremony.

“He said: ‘I’m very sorry that I can’t be there.’ I told him it was alright because I’m doing my doctorate now, so there was another one for him to come to,” she said. “I was hoping that there would be an end to this soon and that he might be able to come home.”

Gui Minhai was on Jan. 20 grabbed by plainclothes police while on a train between Ningbo and Beijing, where he was due to have a medical appointment.

Angela Gui fears he might now be put on trial and receive a longer sentence, jeopardizing his health.

Doctors in Ningbo said her father might have the neurological disease ALS.

The muscles in his hands had begun to atrophy and he had lost some sensation in the soles of his feet, Angela Gui said.

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