Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Hammond Presses China Over Missing Briton

Activists are seeking to locate five members of a controversial Hong Kong book firm amid fears they have been abducted to China.

January 2016

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond speaks at a news conference in Beijing
Lee Bo is one of five Hong Kong publishing executives said to have disappeared because of their links to a book about the Chinese president.
Mr Hammond raised the disappearance of Mr Lee, a British passport holder, when he met his Chinese counterpart.
The Foreign Secretary told a news conference in Beijing: "He has gone missing and we've urgently enquired of the Hong Kong ... and the mainland China authorities ... about his whereabouts."
He added: "We hope that wherever Mr Lee is, that if he will be charged with any offence, this offence will be tried in Hong Kong." 
But China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Mr Lee is "first and foremost a Chinese citizen" and called on others not to make "groundless accusations".
Hong Kong Chief Executive CY Leung said he will continue to investigate what happened to the men despite Mr Lee's wife retracting a missing persons report.
Mr Lee disappeared on Thursday, while four of his colleagues vanished in October.
China accused of kidnappings over Xi Jingping book.
All five are co-owners or employees of Mighty Current, a publisher known for books about China's leadership, many of which are banned on the mainland.
Albert Ho, a customer at their shop, said he understood the book the group were working on was about an alleged former mistress of the Chinese president.
Hong Kong was guaranteed freedom of speech when it won independence from Britain in 1997 and joined China under the "one country, two systems" arrangement.
But many fear Chinese heavy-handedness is putting that at risk.
Mr Lee's wife previously told reporters she had a phone conversation with her husband on Saturday when he told her he was safe but in China. 
As he had left the travel documents required to get back home, she remained afraid he had been abducted and filed a missing persons report.
Mrs Lee has now said she is happy that a handwritten letter, purportedly from Mr Lee and published by Taiwan's news agency Central News, is genuine.
The writer of the letter said: "(I) returned to (the) mainland my own way and am working with the concerned parties in an investigation which may take a while."
But others fear Mr Lee has been leaned on to write the letter to quell the outcry and dissipate the reporting on his disappearance.
Lee Cheuk Yan, a prominent democracy activist and member of the legislature in Hong Kong, told Sky News: "They used law enforcement and kidnapped these people.
"This is a total savage to 'One country, Two systems' policy. Supposedly Hong Kong people are protected by the Hong Kong law, but now, you are not safe to criticise China ... and you are not safe to use your freedom of speech."