The student unions of nine Hong Kong universities and higher education institutes are to sell “banned” books in protest, following the recent case of the five detained booksellers which many feel curbs freedom of expression and publication.

Five shareholders and staff from Causeway Bay Books were missing before it was revealed they had been detained in China. Lee Bo, a shareholder, reappeared on Phoenix TV last week. Lee insisted he had not been abducted by mainland authorities and wished to give up his right to reside in the UK.

Causeway Bay Books. Photo: Kris Cheng/HKFP.

The other four booksellers, who were under criminal investigation in China, also appeared on the Hong Kong-based channel last week, admitting to smuggling illicit books into China. Lui Por and Cheung Chi-ping have since returned to Hong Kong, having met with the police last Friday and Sunday respectively.

In a post by the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS) on social media, the student association said that Causeway Bay Books – which specialises in gossipy titles banned in China – is currently mostly empty, and book printers have destroyed most of the unsold “banned” titles.

It said the case was “solid proof” China was disrespecting the one country, two systems principle and interfering with Hong Kong’s freedom of publication, speech and personal safety.

HKFS stated that it has obtained a small amount of the “banned” books and will sell them at the student unions of nine universities and higher education institutes starting this week.

“Hong Kong is a free city, universities are the fortresses of freedom and defending freedom is the righteous thing to do for students,” HKFS said in the post.

The schools where the books will be sold are:

  • University of Hong Kong
  • Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
  • Polytechnic University
  • Baptist University
  • Lingnan University
  • Shue Yan University
  • Hang Seng Management College
  • Technological and Higher Education Institute of Hong Kong

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Kris Cheng

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.