Another day, another development. It’s now been revealed that the mysteriously missing Hong Kong bookseller Lee Bo is also a British citizen, which would seem to only further complicate matters.
The information was confirmed yesterday by the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, a spokesperson declared the following:
We are deeply concerned by reports about the disappearance and detention of individuals associated with the Causeway Bay Books bookstore in Hong Kong. We can confirm that one of the individuals is a British Citizen and we have urgently requested the Hong Kong and mainland authorities’ assistance in ascertaining this individual’s welfare and whereabouts. We stand ready to provide consular assistance.
We encourage the Hong Kong SAR Government to honour its commitment to protecting the freedom of the press, and we hope the Chinese authorities will continue to make every effort to ensure that the environment in which the media and publishers operate in the Hong Kong SAR supports full and frank reporting.
Suspicions of Lee’s British citizenship first rose after the daughter of his fellow M.I.A. colleague Gui Minhai sought help from the UK police.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi appeared to dismiss the significance of this relevation. “On the specific case you mentioned, based on the Basic Law of Hong Kong and China’s nationality law, this person in question is first and foremost a Chinese citizen,” Wang insisted. He then added that it was “not necessary to make groundless speculation.”
Meanwhile, Guangdong’s Public Security Bureau and Information Office has denied all knowledge of the case. Interestingly enough, an officer from the agency later revealed that they had been specifically instructed by supervisors to claim no knowledge.
Earlier in November, Lee had speculated to the media that his colleagues’ mysterious disappearances were provoked by Causeway Books’ planned publication of a juicy new book, rumoured to have been written by Gui — regarding President Xi Jinping’s rumoured affair with someone during his marriage to singer Peng Liyuan. It’s probable that the book will never see the light of day now with the store’s hurried closing and the continued absence of all its owners.
Meanwhile, Lee’s wife now claims that her husband went to the mainland “voluntarily.”
By Pinky Latt