Top officials in Guangdong have spoken of the disappearance of Hong Kong bookseller Lee Bo, with one saying that he believes there will be “a practical and fair evaluation” of the case.

Zhu Xiaodan, governor of Guangdong Province, was questioned by Hong Kong reporters about whether he knew the details of the case of the missing booksellers, after speaking at the opening ceremony of the Guangdong People’s Congress.

“You may have to ask the relevant departments in charge,” Zhu told i-cable.

Zhu Xiaodan
Zhu Xiaodan. Photo: i-cable.

As Zhu got ready to leave, Hong Kong reporters were then pushed away by two men wearing staff member cards of the Congress, but the reporters refused to go until Zhu added to his response, as seen in RTHK footage.

“These individual issues will have to be eventually evaluated by their practical facts,” Zhu turned back and said.

“I believe there will be a practical and fair evaluation, but I do not believe that any particular case will affect the overall relationship between Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macau, especially between Guangdong and Hong Kong. It definitely will not.”

Li Qingxiong
Li Qingxiong. Photo: i-cable.

Li Qingxiong, deputy director of the Guangdong Public Security Department, said he had no explanation to offer, when asked how Lee had returned to the mainland without his home return permit.

“I have nothing to say,” said Li. “I am going to eat now, if you want to understand [the issue], give me an outline, ok?”

“For these matters [I] believe law enforcement agencies will handle in line with the law,” Li added.

Director of the Guangdong Public Security Department Li Chunsheng was also at the Congress, but Hong Kong reporters were not allowed into a session to interview him, despite the fact that it was originally open to all local and foreign media.

Hong Kong reporters chased after Li when he left the meeting, but the stationary escalator they were on when running towards him suddenly started moving again and some of them almost fell. A security guard blocked reporters from talking to Li, and said they were “assaulting people,” reported Ming Pao.

Lee Bo with his wife on January 23.
Lee Bo with his wife on January 23. Photo: HKFP.

Lee Bo, a shareholder of Causeway Bay Books, a store specialising in gossipy political titles banned on the mainland, went missing in Hong Kong at the end of last month. There was no official record of him leaving Hong Kong, which sparked worries that he might have been abducted by mainland law enforcement officers.

On Sunday, it was reported that Lee had met his wife at an unspecified location in China the previous day. He reiterated that he had voluntarily returned to the mainland to assist in an investigation, but did not provide more details.

Four other members of staff from the store have been missing since October last year. Gui Minhai, one of the missing people, showed up on Chinese state television last week to confess tor a crime he allegedly committed 11 years ago.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said on Tuesday that the Hong Kong government will continue to follow up with the case.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.