The Secretary for Security has said that editorials in mainland state newspapers do not represent the official stance of the Beijing on the case of missing bookseller Lee Bo.

A Global Times editorial on Lee Bo’s disappearance spoke of “powerful agencies” that can circumvent the law and make the person under investigation work with them. When Lai Tung-kwok was challenged by lawmaker Gary Fan Kwok-wai, Lai said he “did not know what such powerful agencies were.”

Lai Tung-kwok
Lai Tung-kwok. File Photo: Stand News.

“Newspaper editorials are only comments, it is another matter if it is a statement given by authorities,” Lai said. “We cannot keep on guessing or even draw conclusions, based on hypothetical [comments] on some platforms.”

He said he cannot offer explanations for comments given by mainland officials.

Zhu Xiaodan, governor of Guangdong Province, said on Monday that believes there will be “a practical and fair evaluation” of the Lee Bo case. 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.

Lai added that it would be an important step for the police to meet with Lee, who is confirmed to be in the mainland, in order to understand the reason he was detained. The police have to file a request to the Guangdong Public Security Department to arrange a meeting.

He denied the communication mechanism between Hong Kong and mainland authorities was not being followed. “However, the initiative is not in the Hong Kong police’s hands,”Lai said.

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

Missing for a month

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 concern 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 to a crime he allegedly committed 11 years ago.

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.