Calls are growing louder for the release of a group of political booksellers who criticised China’s elite and are suspected to have been abducted by Chinese security forces.
Five Hong Kong booksellers – Gui Minhai, Lee Bo, Lui Bo, Cheung Ji-ping and Lam Wing-kei – who specialised in books criticising China’s Communist party have mysteriously vanished since October.
Beijing has refused to comment on the speculation but there is widespread suspicion that the men’s detention is designed to halt the publication of books about the private lives of top party figures in the authoritarian regime.
A source told The Guardian One that Gui and Lee had allegedly been preparing to publish a book about Chinese president Xi Jinping when the disappearances began.
A column by Lee Bo’s wife has also been suspended in the pro-Beijing newspaper Ta Kung Pao.
According to Hong Kong Free Press a short notice was published in the newspaper on Sunday saying the Choi Ping column was suspended with immediate effect.
The case of the missing men is particularly unusual in that while there have been numerous cases of political detainees on mainland China it is very rare for people to be arrested in the autonomous territory of Hong Kong. Books published by the men have been wildly popular in Hong Kong and with visitors from mainland China.
The booksellers continued disappearance has sparked widespread international condemnation.