The twists just won’t stop coming in this year’s most intriguing mystery. Last week, two of the five “missing” booksellers were allowed to return to Hong Kong only to slink back across the border just hours later.
It seems that they only stayed just long enough to urge Hong Kong police to drop their “missing persons” investigations involving the five individuals associated with Causeway Bay Books, a bookstore known for publishing material and gossip critical of the central government in Beijing, that disappeared late last year only to pop back up in custody on the mainland.
A source told the SCMP that Lui Por returned to Hong Kong on Friday, while his colleague Cheung Chi-ping arrived back on Sunday, they both slipped back into the mainland on the same day they arrived.
During their brief stay, they both declared that they needed absolutely no help from either the HK police or government in resolving their case, echoing earlier calls from Lee Bo.
According to SCMP, the dissident poet Bei Ling spoke with family members of Lui and Cheung, and offered this take:
Their return to Hong Kong was only to tell police to drop the case on them, nothing else. They returned to Shenzhen in a hurry, probably because that’s where they have to be on bail. Besides, that’s where their families are.
Last month, both Lui and Cheung were shown on Chinese state television confessing to participating in running an “illegal book trading” business on the mainland.
In the interview, Lui and Cheung both confessed to their involvement, but fingered their colleague Gui Minhai as the mastermind behind the whole operation. “I have deeply reflected on what I have done and very much regret the illegal book trading I have carried out with Gui Minhai,” Lui said.
After showing a “good attitude” during the investigation, it was reported that Lui, Cheung and another colleague Lam Wing-kee may be allowed to return to Hong Kong “soon,” though reports failed to mention for how long.
Meanwhile, it seems like all this excitement isn’t exactly good for business as Causeway Bay Books looks to be headed out of business. A worker told SCMP that Lee Bo’s wife, Sophie Choi Ka-ping, is prepared to give up the shop in May and throw away some 100,000 banned books in order to get her husband back home safe and sound.