Friday, 5 February 2016

The Missing Booksellers Saga Continues

The five missing booksellers are in custody by Guangdong police
The plight of the missing booksellers continues with three of them who have not been heard from since last October are now being held by Guangdong police, and that the trio are under investigation.

In addition, even though the Hong Kong police put in a request last night to speak to Lee Po in order to get more information about the trio, he apparently rebuffed them.

This is now confirmation that the Chinese authorities have Lui Por, Cheung Chi-ping and Lam Wing-kee in custody and they along with Gui Minhai and Lee Po have been suspected to be "involved in illegal activities on the mainland".

"Criminal compulsory measures were imposed on them and they were under investigation," Guangdong police wrote in a letter to their Hong Kong counterparts.

Gossipy books about Chinese leaders on sale in Hong Kong
They included a letter apparently from Lee stating that he "did not need to meet with them at the moment" and would contact them if he wished to do so. Lee's wife confirmed it was her husband's handwriting when she was shown the letter.

The story of the missing booksellers seems to be getting murkier and murkier... why wouldn't Lee want to meet with the Hong Kong authorities? How much longer will they be held for?

Some believe the five are being punished as a warning to others not to publish salacious books about senior Chinese leaders, despite the voracious market for them, and Mighty Current had a big corner on the market.

It published about five books a month, about 50 in a year, making up one-third of the market. Most of the readers were from the mainland, who would come to Hong Kong to buy these books to find out more information (truth or not) about their leaders.

Veteran journalist and writer Ching Cheong believes one of the main reasons why the Chinese authorities want to shut publishers like Mighty Current down is that political factions regularly leak information to publishers like Gui Minhai to embarrass their rivals.

Ironically while Causeway Bay Books is still shut, its books are selling at a political party's stall at the New Year fair in Victoria Park. Word is still getting out...

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