1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Lee Bo pledges end to contentious book sales

Jo HarperMarch 25, 2016

The "missing" Hong Kong bookseller Lee Bo has reportedly said he will no longer deal in banned books. This came a day after he reappeared in Hong Kong following over two months in mainland China.

Demos in Hong Kong calling for Lee Bo's release
Image: Getty Images/AFP/A. Wallace

Lee said Friday the he would never again sell what he called "fabricated books," as quoted by Chinese news portal thepaper.cn.

He also said he would no longer run Hong Kong's Causeway Bay bookstore, the outlet for Mighty Current's titles, which remains closed.

"The homeland is very prosperous and formidable. I am very proud to be Chinese," the portal quoted Lee, also a British passport holder, as saying. He reportedly added that he would be prepared to bring his autistic son to the mainland and praised what he called China's "advanced" medical treatment.

Taken by force?

Reports circulated earlier this year that Chinese authorities had forcibly taken Lee from Hong Kong without the knowledge of local police, in what would have been a violation of local laws and a treaty with former colonial power Britain that keeps Hong Kong's legal and governance system separate to that of mainland China.

Asked whether he had been abducted from Hong Kong by security agents, Lee answered: "It's not convenient for me to say."

Reportedly smiling and laughing nervously, Lee was escorted into the back of a black people carrier and was some time later spotted at the border. Immigration officials refused to confirm local media reports saying Lee had crossed back over to China.

Lee disappeared in December, one of five men who went missing at the end of last year linked to book publisher Mighty Current and the Causeway Bay bookstore, which was known for selling works containing rumors about high-ranking members of the Chinese Communist Party.

Another colleague, Gui Minhai, disappeared from Thailand in October, and last month appeared on Chinese state television confessing to a decade-old fatal drunk driving accident. The three other men were last week said to be being held on the mainland for an investigation into unspecified "illegal activities."

Gui Minhai disappeared from Thailand in October
Gui Minhai disappeared from Thailand in OctoberImage: picture-alliance/dpa/J. Favre

The 65-year old Lee returned to Hong Kong on Thursday, crossing over the Hong Kong-Shenzhen border by car, together with an unidentified man. He reportedly requested privacy and said he would be visiting family graveyards in China in a few days' time, HKFP reported.

"I did not dare to go to the mainland for a while previously. I heard that people had got into trouble for their banned books business. I was afraid. But after I went to the mainland and solved all the problems this time, I can finally feel at ease now," the South China Morning Post quoted Lee as saying.

In letters sent to his wife, Lee reportedly said he was helping with an investigation on the mainland, but some believe this may have been coerced. He later asked the Hong Kong police to drop its investigation into his disappearance. This followed similar requests from three of his colleagues.

Chinese media clampdown

The Chinese Communist Party appears to be clamping down on media and publishing outlets. A well-known Chinese journalist Jia Jia, for example, went missing earlier this month.

"Lee's is a release with Chinese characteristics," China expert Willy Lam of the Chinese University of Hong Kong told AFP. "The fact of the matter is that he has not really been fully released... he needs to report back to China," he said.

jbh/msh (AFP, dpa)