EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini has warned China it must help investigations into five Hong Kong publishers who have mysteriously disappeared, after publishing books critical of Beijing.
The five include two EU citizens, Gui Minhai of Sweden and Lee Po from Britain. The other three are Lui Bo, Zhang Zhiping, and Lin Rongji.
The five were part of the Mighty Current publishing house, which specialises in salacious exposes of mainland China’s political figures and corruption. Minhai was the first to disappear, in mid-October.
Under the “one country, two systems” legal system left behind by former imperial power Britain, Hong Kong enjoys more relaxed media freedoms from censorship than China.
Whilst careful not to accuse China directly of being behind the disappearances, Mogherini said Friday (8 January) that “it would be a violation of the Basic Law if, as media allege, mainland [China] law enforcement agencies had been operating in Hong Kong. This would be inconsistent with the ‘one country two systems’ principle.”
Mogherini pointedly added, “The relevant authorities in Thailand, China and Hong Kong should investigate and clarify the circumstances of the disappearances in conformity with the rule of law.”
Perceived encroachment on Hong Kong’s freedoms by China lay behind last year’s so-called ‘Umbrella Revolution’, which saw tens of thousands come out onto the streets.
Mighty Current is both a publisher, and has its own bookstore. China’s state-run Global Times newspaper has accused the bookshop of having an “evil influence” and “maliciously fabricating” stories.
There has been speculation Mighty Current was about to publish a book on President Xi Jinping’s sex life.
Hong Kong ceased to be a British colony in 1997, when it was formally handed back to China.