Friday, January 8, 2016

More Commentary on the Lee Bo Disappearance Case in Hong Kong (INYT, Time)

Michael Forsythe
International New York Times
7 January 2016
A Hong Kong-based editor, who specializes in gossipy books about Chinese leaders, vanishes. His wife files a missing persons report with the police. She abruptly withdraws it after a faxed letter surfaces, apparently in her husband’s calligraphy, stating that he is in mainland China of his own volition, helping with an investigation. Hong Kong border officials have no record of his ever leaving.
     The case of Lee Bo — Paul Lee is his English name — and his four missing colleagues has all the makings of an espionage thriller. But to many of the 7.2 million people in this former British colony, his disappearance and apparent surfacing across the border that demarcates Hong Kong from the rest of China have fueled a profound fear, by calling into question the legal guarantee that people here would be shielded until midcentury from Beijing’s reach under an arrangement known as one country, two systems...
     “The latest suggestion that the publisher went to Shenzhen and was arrested for having prostitution in Shenzhen is a laughable and well-known Communist smearing tactic,” Johannes Chan, a former dean of the University of Hong Kong’s law faculty, wrote in an email.  Click here to read the full article.

Nash Jenkins
7 January 2016
Causeway Bay is Hong Kong’s busiest, brashest retail district — think gilded Gucci storefronts, perfume clouds, and many, many mainland Chinese tourists — but Causeway Bay Books is tucked into a second-floor corner of a dingy building that also houses a pharmacist and a beauty salon called Person Nail. The narrow stairwell up from Lockhart Road is lined with printouts that will give you a good idea of the bookstore’s wares: the faces of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Mao Zedong feature prominently, though at least two advertisements are for Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry’s Le Petit Prince.
     Causeway Bay Books is also popular with mainland tourists, because many of the books it sells — tabloid tomes with lurid subject matter such as the sex lives of top Chinese Communist Party officials — are illegal north of the border that separates Hong Kong from China. But on Wednesday afternoon, the shop’s door had been bolted shut. There is nobody left to run it.
     Five of the company’s employees have disappeared. A sixth employee told BBC correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes that he was afraid he would vanish next.
     The most recent disappearance was of the 65-year-old co-owner, a British man known as Paul Lee or Lee Bo, who was last seen at the company’s warehouse in Hong Kong on Dec. 30. (Four others, one of them a Swedish national, went missing while traveling overseas in October.) Lee called his wife Sophie Choi to tell her he was “assisting” an unspecified police investigation across the border in Shenzhen; Choi would later realize that his mainland travel permit, which Hong Kong residents must produce when crossing the border, was still at home. There is thus no official record of Lee leaving the city...
      “If Lee was kidnapped off the streets of Hong Kong, it would clearly violate the Basic Law,” Michael Davis, an expert in Hong Kong and Chinese law at the University of Hong Kong, tells TIME. “It would show a disregard for the separation of the Chinese and Hong Kong legal systems, which the constitution guarantees.”... Click here to read the full article.

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