One of the booksellers who went missing last year has re-emerged in Hong Kong, admitting once again that he helped send “banned books” to China and was arrested by mainland law enforcement officers. He has now been released on bail and is free to travel across the Hong Kong-mainland border.
Cheung Chi-ping, who went missing in Dongguan last October, returned to Hong Kong on March 6 and met with the Hong Kong police to cancel the missing person report on him, then went back to the mainland.
On Wednesday, Cheung spoke to a Sing Tao Daily reporter who claimed to have “bumped into” him in Shatin, as he returned to Hong Kong for the second time. Sing Tao Daily had previously exclusively received several letters and a video from Lee Bo, another missing bookseller, while he was detained in the mainland.
He told the reporter that he went back to the mainland after his meeting with the police, since his pregnant wife was expected to give birth next month. He said he bought baby supplies in Hong Kong and went back to Dongguan to be with his wife.
“I have more confidence in Hong Kong goods,” he said.
Cheung said that the rumour that he was allowed to live in Hong Kong on bail and that he was still under surveillance in Dongguan was not true. He said that he was free to travel, and the two trips back to Hong Kong were not arranged by the mainland authorities.
Before his first return, he appeared in a Phoenix TV interview in late February, saying he “felt regretful” at helping Gui Minhai, shareholder of the Mighty Current publishing house, which specialises in gossipy political titles, in “illegal operations”. He told the Hong Kong-based channel that “I voluntarily accept the legal punishment, I truly feel regretful”.
Cheung confirmed to the Sing Tao reporter that his words in the interview on Phoenix TV interview were true, that he helped in selling banned books to the mainland, and it was the reason behind his arrest in his family’s flat in Dongguan on October 14 last year.
But he stressed to the reporter that during the investigation, he was never subjected to torture or coercion, that he did not have to do anything involuntarily.
“They took good care of me, were good to me, [I felt] very safe,” he said. “What I said when I was interviewed on the mainland was from my heart.”
At the end of the interview, he said he had not made a decision on whether to continue selling books in the future, and that he would focus on taking care of his pregnant wife for now.