Hong Kong Politics & Protest

Missing bookseller’s wife’s column in pro-Beijing newspaper suspended

The column of missing publisher Lee Bo’s wife has been suspended in the pro-Beijing newspaper Ta Kung Pao.

A short notice was published in the newspaper on Sunday saying the Choi Ping column was suspended with immediate effect.

The column published in the newspaper’s supplement page Small Park is credited to Syu Fei, the pen name of Sophie Choi Ka-ping, wife of the missing bookseller Lee Bo. Choi has been writing for the newspaper for 20 years.

Ta Kung Pao, 10 January 2016.

Ta Kung Pao, 10 January 2016. Photo: HKFP

Choi wrote about culture and daily life for the column, which was rarely political. Her last piece on January 8 was on the the popular British drama Downton Abbey and the Taiwanese film Murmur of the Hearts.

“The column was suspended and not cancelled… she has a good relationship with us. She told her editor before the news of [Lee Bo’s disappearance] was known by the public at the end of December,” said the woman in charge of the supplement, Miss Kwan, who declined to give her full name.

“We did not know what happened by then. She did not tell her editor why as it was not convenient. Only that she had something urgent to handle and could not write in January, and that we should arrange someone to take her place temporarily,” she said.

Kwan told HKFP that Choi is a “responsible writer” and that her articles they previously had on file could only last until January 6, but that she had submitted a final piece that ran January 8.

Choi did not respond to calls from HKFP.

The pro-Beijing Ta Kung Pao and Wen Wei Po newspapers are owned by the China Liaison Office.

Before running Causeway Bay Books, a store specialising in books on political gossip, many of which are banned on the mainland, Lee Bo worked at Joint Publishing, a book store chain and publishing house owned by the China Liaison Office through shell companies.

Ta Kung Pao, 10 January 2016.

Ta Kung Pao, 10 January 2016. Photo: HKFP

Lee Bo, 65, went missing from Hong Kong on December 30. He was last seen at the publisher Mighty Current warehouse in Chai Wan.

In a fax allegedly written by him and received by his wife last week, Lee said that he had travelled to China voluntarily and that “everything is fine.”

Lee Bo's wife received an alleged video from Lee Bo on 9 January. A screenshot of the video was printed on Sing Tao Daily on 10 January.

A screenshot of the video of Lee Bo allegedly received by his wife on January 9, published on Sing Tao Daily 10 January, 2016. Photo: HKFP

Four other members of staff from the bookstore also remain missing. They include Gui Minhai, a Swedish national, Lui Bo, Cheung Ji-ping and Lam Wing-kei.

On Sunday, an estimated 3,500 to 6,000 people joined a rally in response to the disappearance of the booksellers.

Missing bookseller's wife's column in pro-Beijing newspaper suspended