The case of the Hong Kong missing booksellers continues to heat up with Stockholm demanding more “openness” on the part of China and even requesting to meet with Gui Minhai, a Swedish citizen, who now finds himself in the mainland awaiting trial.
Over the weekend, Gui made a tearful confession aired on CCTV, claiming that he had returned to the mainland voluntarily, in order to stand trial for killing a university student while drunk driving more than a decade ago.
In the taped confession, Gui also revealed that though he is a Swedish national, he wants to handle this on his own:
Although I now hold the Swedish citizenship, deep down I still think of myself as a Chinese. My roots are in China. I hope the Swedish authorities would respect my personal choices, my rights and my privacy, and allow myself to deal with my own issues.
However, Per Bolund, the Swedish deputy minister for finance, has gone against Gui’s alleged wishes and proposed that perhaps the simplest way to clear the whole thing up would be to let Swedish authorities see Gui.
“This is, of course, the preferable option. I really hope that the Chinese authorities will see this need and that it would be the easiest way to resolve all the questions that have arisen,” Bolund told the SCMP on the sidelines of the Asian Financial Forum.
Bolund also revealed that Stockholm “is quite concerned about the development” and is asking for more “openness” from Beijing on the issue.
Thanks to his appearance on state television, Gui has fast become the most talked-about of a group of five missing shareholders and staff associated with Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay Books, a shop that specializes in selling books that are banned on the mainland.
The disappearances made headlines once again earlier this month with the sudden disappearance of Lee Bo, who appeared in a video last week assuring viewers that he had left Hong Kong for personal reasons, despite the fact that his travel documents were found inside his Hong Kong residence.
Also at the Asian Financial Forum, HK Chief Executive CY Leung told reporters that the HK government was still very concerned about the cases, but his hands were tied in regards to the Gui Minhai case because his disappearance had not yet been reported to HK police. However, the SCMP reports that police officers had in fact visited Gui’s Hong Kong residence in early January, three months after his disappearance from his Thailand apartment back in October.
It was also earlier this month that a Swedish human rights worker was detained at the Beijing airport on suspicion of “endangering state security.” He has since been accused of “providing funds for criminal activities.” Swedish officials were allowed to visit him over the weekend for the first time since he was picked up on January 4th.