Hong Kong Law & Crime Politics & Protest

Chinese police urge bookseller Lam Wing-kee to return to mainland for investigation

The Ningbo Public Security Bureau has urged bookseller Lam Wing-kee to return to the mainland for investigation, as Hong Kong officials were visiting Beijing in talks over the communication mechanism for Hong Kong people detained on the mainland.

The bureau said in a statement that Lam’s actions broke bail laws in China: “If he refuses to return, the bureau will amend the criminal compulsory measures in accordance with the law.”

Lam Wing-kee

Lam Wing-kee. Photo: HKFP.

Lam revealed details of his eight-month detention in China after returning to Hong Kong last month. He said he was kidnapped in Shenzhen and held in Ningbo. The condition for his return was to hand over sensitive customer information from his “banned” book shop in Causeway Bay, Lam said. He is now staying in a “safe place” in Hong Kong with the assistance of lawmakers.

Provided with ‘assistance’ 

The 1,000-odd word statement describing the details of Lam’s case did not specify what action will be taken. Hong Kong and the mainland do not have an agreement on the surrender of fugitive offenders.

The bureau said it discovered the “illegal” posting of foreign books into China during the first half of 2015, and found that they were from Lam’s Causeway Bay Books store. It formed a “special case unit” in September 2015 to begin investigations. Booksellers including Lam were arrested last October and put under residential surveillance.

The bureau added that Lam had completed 368 transactions, sending books into the mainland and receiving more than 400,000 Chinese yuan. It said that his residential surveillance was cancelled in March as Lam admitted to the alleged crimes. He was then provided with livelihood assistance by the authorities, since Lam said he did not have a good relationship with his family.

The bureau also said that Lam suggested returning to Hong Kong due to personal issues on June 2, promising to follow bail conditions. Thus he was allowed to head to Hong Kong from Shaoguan.

Lai Tung-kwok Wing-kee Rimsky Yuen

Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok, Lam Wing-kee, Secretary for Justice. Rimsky Yuen. Photo: HKFP/GovHK.

Top officials from the Hong Kong government visited Beijing on Tuesday to discuss a decade-old notification mechanism between the city and the mainland. The Hong Kong government only received notice of Lam’s detention months after he went missing.

During the meeting, a video footage of Lam under detention was shown to Hong Kong officials, according to i-Cable news.

The video showed Lam’s daily life in his cell, including scenes of him having meals, having a haircut, reading books and undergoing body checks by officers. He also “confessed” to his alleged crimes in the video, without the presence of a lawyer.

The Chinese Public Security Bureau also played a recording of Lam’s mainland girlfriend. The content was mostly the same as an interview she gave to Hong Kong’s Sing Tao Daily, where she questioned Lam’s manhood.

‘Great importance’

In a statement after the meeting, Beijing’s minister of public security Guo Shengkun said the central government attached great importance to the suggestions by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying regarding the existing mechanism. He said he hoped the two parties can work together to improve communication.

The statement also quoted Secretary for Justice Rimsky Yuen Kwok-keung and Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok as saying that they thanked the central government for valuing and supporting the discussion.

Chinese police urge bookseller Lam Wing-kee to return to mainland for investigation