Saturday, 9 April 2016

Beijing's Scare Tactics

Lee Po seems to praise the mainland whenever the media ask questions
We're all still shaking our heads over how the missing bookseller incident came about and how it ended is still a mystery.

Whenever Lee Po was accosted by local media, he would say such pro-China statements -- coming from someone who used to publish books criticizing the Communist Party -- that they were too bizarre to accept.

In the latest twist to the story, a publisher who knows Lee Po, has come out to say that mainland agents had visited him three decades ago when he went back into the publishing business.

Publisher Lau Tat-man says mainland agents visit regularly
And during the height of the missing booksellers incident, the same agents visited Lau Tat-man three times in the span of a month.

He claimed they were from the Guangdong State Security Department and were investigating his connection with Causeway Bay Books.

"They told me the public security department was very angry about the banned books business and that I could be the mastermind behind the five booksellers in question and take advantage of their downfall to expand my business," Lau said.

Lau says he's speaking out now because his wife has been detained by Dongguan authorities since October 24 -- the same day and place one of the booksellers, Cheung Ping-chi, went missing. Lau hasn't heard from her since, nor have the mainland agents given him any updates about her.

The connection between him and Causeway Bay Books is interesting. Gui Minhai, who allegedly returned to the mainland to stand for charges of drunk driving many years ago, used to write for Lau on a freelance basis.

Gui and Lee also poached Lau's distribution staff, Lui Por and Cheung.

Mainland agents asked Lau about Causeway Bay Books
"I told the agents, they [Lui and Cheung] took all my business contacts and distribution data when they joined Gui and Lee. How can you accuse me of being behind their business?" he said.

The mainland agents contacted Lau again in mid-January, saying the Causeway Bay Books sellers had revealed information against Lau, and that he had expanded his banned books business (because Causeway Bay Books was not in operation).

"I told them, 'why don't you kidnap me to the mainland to sort things out?'," he recalled, adding that he'd been banned from getting a wui heung jing or return home permit to go there.

Hopefully media pressure will help Lau be reunited with his wife. But what did he do to have mainland agents visit him regularly, and detain his wife up from late October until now?

These stories just confirm Hong Kong people's fears about the mainland, making them even more concerned and worried about their future in the city, while getting no reassurances from the local government nor Beijing.

Is it not surprising then that the film Ten Years won best picture at last week's Hong Kong Film Awards, that there are more localist groups running for seats in the upcoming Legislative Council, that people get sensitive when simplified Chinese is used in the city?

What is Beijing's strategy to win the hearts and minds of Hong Kong people? Scaring them is hardly effective...


  1. I don't think the tale of the missing booksellers has come to an end yet -- and won't consider things resolved until all five booksellers are back on Hong Kong soil (or, at least, somewhere besides mainland China). Agree though that Beijing's efforts to win the hearts and minds of Hong Kong people definitely hasn't been all that successful.

    1. HI YTSL -- Yes I don't mean the story has ended, but how Lee Po's story has ended so far.