TIME Hong Kong

China Says Hong Kong Booksellers Detained Over ‘Illegal’ Mainland Sales

Causeway Bay Bookstore
Jerome Favre—EPA A flyer with photos of five Hong Kong booksellers hangs on the entrance to Causeway Bay Books shop in Hong Kong on Feb. 5, 2016

Four of five men detained by China appeared in a news item on a Hong Kong-based television station

As Chinese authorities claimed the recent detentions of Hong Kong booksellers were triggered by mail-order sales of unauthorized books on the mainland, four of the five detained men appeared on television, confirming for the first time the reason for why they had been arrested.

The Associated Press cited a report in Chinese state-linked media saying that publishing house Mighty Current Media’s co-founder, Gui Minhai, had admitted to illegally selling more than 4,000 books that were not approved by Chinese authorities. Gui — a Swedish passport holder — disappeared from his home in Thailand in October and has already given one televised confession for a different crime, in which he appeared visibly distressed.

Three other men, Lui Por, Cheung Chi-ping and Lam Wing-kee — who are shareholders and employees of Mighty Current Media and the connected Causeway Bay Books shop — were detained during trips to China. Many believe the detentions are related to Mighty Current’s publication of salacious books about the private lives of top Chinese Communist Party officials.

The four men appeared in a broadcast on Mandarin-language station Phoenix Television confirming their involvement in the selling of “unauthorized” books in China, according to Reuters. It is unclear how Phoenix — which is privately owned in Hong Kong but seen as closely aligned with Beijing — gained access to the detained men.

A fifth Hong Kong bookseller, Lee Bo — who holds British citizenship — was not featured in the Phoenix report. Lee went missing in the territory in January before tuning up in the custody of Chinese authorities, sparking fears that he was kidnapped by mainland agents. The case has sparked widespread unease over what would be a breach of Hong Kong’s judicial autonomy amid growing fears of encroachment by Beijing.

[AP, Reuters]

Tap to read full story

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com


Dear TIME Reader,

As a regular visitor to TIME.com, we are sure you enjoy all the great journalism created by our editors and reporters. Great journalism has great value, and it costs money to make it. One of the main ways we cover our costs is through advertising.

The use of software that blocks ads limits our ability to provide you with the journalism you enjoy. Consider turning your Ad Blocker off so that we can continue to provide the world class journalism you have become accustomed to.

The TIME Team