An alleged video and letter featuring the missing bookseller Lee Bo has emerged according to Hong Kong media, in which he warns people not to make a big deal about his disappearance.
According to Headline Daily, Lee Bo appeared in a video, which was not included in the news report, and was described as being calm and in good spirits.
Lee is said to be confused as to why his disappearance has become so high profile and urged people not to join demonstrations or stir up trouble over the issue.
The Guardian reports that thousands of people took to the streets this afternoon to demand the release of Lee Bo and four other political booksellers suspected to have been abducted by Chinese security forces.
— Hong Kong Free Press (@HongKongFP) January 10, 2016
Lee Bo, a shareholder of Causeway Bay Books, went missing from Hong Kong on December 30 last year. His wife said she received a suspicious call from him on the same day in Mandarin, instead of Cantonese which they normally communicate in, assuring her that everything was fine.
In a letter which was faxed through, purported to have been hand-written by Lee himself, he claims that he had traveled to China voluntarily. He does, however, neglect to explain why his travel documents remain in Hong Kong or how he managed to leave the territory.
The characters highlighted in red indicate where simplified characters have been used, something which is not uncommon to do out of convenience but which Hong Kong media are treating as suspicious.
The letter, which has been translated by Hong Kong Free Press, reads as follows:
I have noticed that, recently some people in Hong Kong, are organising a march because of my issues – I am very confused and puzzled about that.
I have said again and again, it is completely my personal action to return to the mainland, in order to understand some personal issues, it is not related to anyone else. I do not know why some people have made a big fuss out of this matter.
No matter what your purposes are, what benefits [you are] dreaming to get from it, your behaviours have seriously disturbed the daily lives of me and my family, putting us under a lot of pressure and [we are] physically and mentally exhausted. Under such atmosphere, how can I come back to Hong Kong?
Everyone, please, for the sake of me and my family, respect my choice and privacy, do not make a big fuss out of this matter. This is truly how you should care for me.
The situation got a lot more tense a few days ago when it was revealed that Lee Bo was in fact a British citizen, raising the prospect of Lee’s disappearance becoming a diplomatic incident.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry was quick to dismiss the significance of this revelation. “Based on the Basic Law of Hong Kong and China’s nationality law, this person in question is first and foremost a Chinese citizen,” said a spokesman, who then added that it was “not necessary to make groundless speculation.”