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<> on January 10, 2016 in Hong Kong, Hong Kong. The disappearance of five Hong Kong booksellers, including UK passport holder Lee Bo, has sent shivers through Hong Kong as anxiety grows that Chinese control over the city is tightening.
People hold placards and shout slogans as they take part in a rally on a street on Jan. 10, 2016, in Hong Kong. The disappearance of five Hong Kong booksellers, including U.K. passport holder Lee Bo, has sent shivers through Hong Kong as anxiety grows that Chinese control over the city is tightening  Anthony Kwan—Getty Images

Marchers in Hong Kong Demand Answers From Beijing Over Missing Publishers

Jan 10, 2016

Hundreds if not thousands of people marched in Hong Kong on Sunday to express their concern over the fate of five missing individuals connected to a local publishing company that specializes in printing works highly critical of top communist Chinese leaders.

The disappearances of the owners and employees of Mighty Current Media have sparked concern from Washington and the E.U., and caused widespread alarm in Hong Kong, where it is widely speculated that the missing men have been extrajudicially detained by Chinese authorities because of the nature of the works they published.

“I don’t want to be the next to disappear,” one 43-year-old marcher told the South China Morning Post, as protesters made their way from the Hong Kong government's headquarters in Admiralty — ground zero of last year's 79-day pro-democracy Umbrella Revolution — to Beijing's Liaison Office in Hong Kong.

Other protesters were there to demonstrate against what they called white terror. The marchers included several figures prominent in the city's pro-democracy movement, including the second-highest official in the former colonial administration of this onetime British territory, Anson Chan. According to a Post reporter, she urged China's President Xi Jinping to respect the autonomy granted to Hong Kong by China in 1997, when the territory returned to Chinese sovereignty.

Democratic lawmaker Albert Ho told the Guardian that the protesters were demanding the immediate release of the missing five, as well as explanations from Beijing.

79 Days That Shook Hong Kong

Pro-democracy demonstrators are sprayed with pepper spray during clashes with police officers during a rally near the Hong Kong government headquarters on Sept. 28, 2014.
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Pro-democracy demonstrators are sprayed with pepper spray during clashes with police officers during a rally near the Hong Kong government headquarters on Sept. 28, 2014.Xaume Olleros—AFP/Getty Images
Pro-democracy demonstrators are sprayed with pepper spray during clashes with police officers during a rally near the Hong Kong government headquarters on Sept. 28, 2014.
A pro-democracy demonstrator gestures after police fired tear gas towards protesters near the Hong Kong government headquarters on Sept. 28, 2014.
Riot police use tear gas against protesters after thousands of people blocked a main road at the financial central district in Hong Kong, Sept. 28, 2014.
Policemen rest following pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong on Sept. 29, 2014.
A protester raises his arms as police officers try to disperse the crowd near the government headquarters in Hong Kong, Sept. 29, 2014.
Protesters gather in the streets outside the Hong Kong Government Complex on Sept. 29, 2014 in Hong Kong.
Pro-democracy demonstrators hold up their mobile phones during a protest near the Hong Kong government headquarters on Sept. 29, 2014.
A protester sleeps on the streets outside the Hong Kong Government Complex at sunrise on Sept. 30, 2014 in Hong Kong.
Protesters take part in a rally on a street outside of Hong Kong Government Complex on Sept. 30, 2014 in Hong Kong.
Joshua Wong, leader of the student movement, delivers a speech as protesters block the main street to the financial Central district, outside the government headquarters building in Hong Kong Oct.1, 2014.
Protesters react as Joshua Wong (not pictured), leader of the student movement, speaks to the crowd outside the government headquarters building in Hong Kong, Oct.1, 2014.
A protester holding an umbrella stands on the street close to the Hong Kong Government Complex on Oct.1, 2014 in Hong Kong.
A local resident breaks through police lines and attempts to reach the pro-democracy tent on Oct. 3, 2014 in Mong Kok, Hong Kong.
Policemen try to get a man to let go of a fence guarded by pro-democracy demonstrators in an occupied area of Hong Kong on Oct. 3, 2014.
A pro-democracy protester sleeps on a concrete road divider on a street outside the Hong Kong Government Complex on Oct. 5, 2014 in Hong Kong.
The statue "Umbrella Man" by the Hong Kong artist known as Milk, is set up at a pro-democracy protest site next to the central government offices in Hong Kong on Oct. 5, 2014.
A pro-democracy protester uses bamboo to strengthen a barricade blocking a major road in Hong Kong on Oct. 13, 2014.
Demonstrators walk past notes hanging on a wall outside the Central Government Offices in the Admiralty business district in Hong Kong on Oct. 17, 2014.
Tents set up by pro-democracy protesters are seen in an occupied area outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong's Admiralty district, Nov. 12, 2014.
A young Hong Kong couple who did not give their names wear gas masks as they pose for a wedding photographer prior to their marriage next to the tents used by pro-deocracy demonstrators at the Admiralty protest site on Nov. 14, 2014 in Hong Kong.
Police face pro-democracy protesters on Nov. 19, 2014 outside the central government offices in the Admiralty district of Hong Kong.
Pro-democracy activists join arms as they face off with police outside the Legislative Council building on Nov. 19, 2014 in Hong Kong.
Police officers disperse pro-democracy protesters outside the Legislative Council building after clashes with pro-democracy activists on Nov. 19, 2014 in Hong Kong.
Pro-democracy protesters climb up a wall as police officers disperse them outside the Legislative Council building after clashes with pro-democracy activists on Nov. 19, 2014 in Hong Kong.
Pro-democracy activists sleep outside the Legislative Council building after protesters clashed with police on Nov. 19, 2014 in Hong Kong.
Police arrest a pro-democracy protester on Lung Wo Road outside Hong Kong's Government complex on Nov. 30, 2014 in Hong Kong.
A young student studies in a makeshift classroom set up on a main road at a major pro-democracy protest site in the Admiralty district of Hong Kong on Dec. 1, 2014.
A demonstrator is taken away by policemen, at an area previously blocked by pro-democracy supporters, outside the government headquarters in Hong Kong, Dec. 11, 2014.
Pro-democracy protesters remove signs placed up during the past two months of protests from the area around the protest camp but leave intact the notice "We are dreamers" in the Admiralty in Hong Kong on Dec. 11, 2014.
Hong Kong police dismantle the remains of the pro-democracy protest camp in the Admiralty district of Hong Kong on Dec. 11, 2014.
Pro-democracy demonstrators are sprayed with pepper spray during clashes with police officers during a rally near the Ho
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Xaume Olleros—AFP/Getty Images
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Mighty Current's co-owner, Gui Minhai, failed to return from a holiday in Thailand last October. The company’s general manager and two other staff are thought to have been detained while traveling in mainland China.

However it is the disappearance of the fifth individual, British co-owner Paul Lee, also known as Lee Bo, that has caused the most concern in Hong Kong because it is believed he was illegally snatched from the city by mainland Chinese police and brought over the border for detention and interrogation. If that is the case, it would represent a flagrant breach of Hong Kong jurisdiction. It would also send a stark warning to the territory's outward-looking, freedom-loving population that it can no longer expect legal or constitutional protection should Beijing's displeasure be incurred.

Speaking to local radio before today's march, democratic legislator Sin Chung-kai said that the so-called “one country, two systems” model — by which Hong Kong is part of China while at the same time retaining its own legal and cultural autonomy — was near collapse.

“It is totally terrifying,” he said. “Mainland officers make arrests in Hong Kong, a clear breach of the [constitution].”

Meanwhile, one of the organizers of today's march, democratic campaigner Richard Tsoi, told the Post: “The ‘one country, two systems’ [principle] is under threat. It is time for Hong Kong people to come out to defend the city.”

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