Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Tunisia's Parliament votes on new Government

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

French court rules #burkini ban "clearly illegal"

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Biden in Turkey, Colombia Peace Deal, Ethiopia Olympic Protest (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

Earthquake in Italy, French Burkini Ruling (part 1)

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

The hidden secrets of Les Invalides

Read more

FOCUS

Pro-Opposition stronghold Port-Gentil feverishly awaits presidential elections

Read more

ENCORE!

Alexis Michalik: treading the boards in the footsteps of 'Edmond'

Read more

REPORTERS

Getting away with murder in DR Congo

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Why does Italy refuse to see the seismic risk?'

Read more

Asia-pacific

Hong Kong booksellers 'confess to illegal trading in China’

© Philippe Lopez, AFP file picture | A policeman stands by placards of the missing booksellers that have been placed outside the China liaison office in Hong Kong, on January 19, 2016

Text by NEWS WIRES

Latest update : 2016-02-29

Four of the five Hong Kong booksellers who went missing in October appeared on Chinese television confirming for the first time they’d been detained for “illegal book trading” in mainland China.

The five booksellers - including a British and Swedish national - had been linked to the same Hong Kong publisher and bookstore that specialised in scandalous books on the private lives and power struggles of China’s Communist Party leaders.

The disappearances have prompted fears that mainland Chinese authorities may be using shadowy tactics that erode the “one country, two systems” formula under which Hong Kong has been governed since its return to China from British rule in 1997.

Four of the men, Gui Minhai, Lui Por, Cheung Chi-ping and Lam Wing-kee, gave details of their alleged offences to Phoenix Television on Sunday night.

“I have deeply reflected on what I have done and very much regret the illegal book trading I have carried out with Gui Minhai,” said Lui Por in the Phoenix TV report.

In a four-minute report that involved exclusive interviews with the four, they confessed to selling “unauthorized” books in China via an online platform and evading customs inspections to deliver some 4,000 books to 380 customers since October 2014.

Gui said he’d altered and obscured the covers of the Hong Kong-printed books with nylon bags to “evade” customs security checks and was singled out by the others as the mastermind. The group had also opened a bank account in China to make payments.

Gui had previously confessed on Chinese state television to a fatal drink-driving incident over a decade ago, after going missing in Thailand late last year.

‘Not abducted’

The TV report also detailed how Lui, Cheung and Lee had been arrested by Chinese authorities in Shenzhen and Dongguan, two cities in southern China close to Hong Kong, in October and then called upon to testify in the case.

“I know that Gui Minhai’s books are fabricated. They were downloaded from the Internet and were pieced together from magazines,” said Lam. “They have generated lots of rumours in society and brought a bad influence ... I deeply acknowledge my mistakes and am willing to be penalized.”

The only bookseller not to appear in the report was Lee Bo, a British passport holder, who Britain said had been “involuntarily removed” to China from Hong Kong in December, constituting a “serious breach” of the one country, two systems formula.

Hong Kong police said in a statement, however, that they had met Lee on Monday at a guesthouse in China and that Lee had told them he’d travelled to China “voluntarily” and hadn’t been kidnapped.

But Lee gave no details on how he’d crossed into China without his travel document, telling police a friend had helped him use his “own means” to do so.

Lee added he was assisting in an investigation involving Gui.

‘Don’t interfere in Hong Kong affairs’

A number of governments have expressed concern regarding the disappearances, which some diplomats fear were abductions by Chinese agents in Hong Kong and Thailand.

China’s Foreign Ministry, however, has said its law enforcement officials would never do anything illegal, especially not overseas, and called on foreign governments not to interfere in Hong Kong affairs.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei acknowledged the television report in a daily briefing, saying the men had “already admitted to their actions”, without elaborating.

The Phoenix television report said Lam, Lui and Cheung might be allowed to return to Hong Kong this week, citing unspecified sources. Gui, however, was expected to remain in detention.

A Swedish Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told Reuters by telephone that an envoy had visited Gui on Wednesday and that his condition is “very good”, but gave no further details.

Britain has not yet been granted consular access to Lee despite formal requests to China, a spokesperson for the British consulate in Hong Kong told Reuters.

A Phoenix Television spokeswoman said it was granted access to the men after making “numerous requests to the relevant authorities” but declined to give further details on where, when or under what conditions the interviews were conducted.

(REUTERS)

Date created : 2016-02-29

  • HONG KONG

    Missing Hong Kong booksellers held by Chinese police

    Read more

  • China

    China says missing Hong Kong booksellers are 'under investigation'

    Read more

  • HONG KONG

    Hong Kong stunned as five booksellers go missing

    Read more

COMMENT(S)