Phoenix Lam, the son of recently returned bookseller Lam Wing-kee, has denied that he crossed the border into the mainland to “challenge” or “test” any authority. He said that he visits China regularly for “legal business” and the fact he entered without trouble shows that China is “civilised and open” and One Country Two System is intact.

He said he mentioned “testing” the border on Facebook in an effort to seek part-time work. “Let’s see whether a Hong Kong person – who is not involved in the book business, and did not send books anywhere – will be detained unreasonably,” he wrote on Monday. He then announced through a friend that he had successfully crossed the border at around 6pm the same day.

Phoenix Lam
Phoenix Lam, Lam Wing-kee’s son. Photo: Facebook.

However, Phoenix published a statement on Tuesday saying that media outlets had used provocative words or did not report the truth about his trip and that he “felt that it was necessary to clarify immediately.” He said that he talked about entering China because he would only be available for interviews for part-time job offers when he returns on Friday.

‘Civilised and open’

He said that his success in returning to the mainland showed that the “Chinese government rules according to the law and is civilised and open. It will not detain anyone unrelated to the [Causeway Bay Bookstore] incident. [It] shows the improvement of Chinese law and the effective implementation of One Country, Two Systems.” He added that he “was not stalked or placed under surveillance inside the mainland… [and] was not harassed.”

He also said that he runs a design business which does not sell nor mail books, and that the media’s inaccurate reporting may “destroy his good country-loving, Hong Kong-loving image” and affect his business.

Lam Wing-kee.
Lam Wing-kee. Photo: Gene Lin/HKFP.

Lam Wing-kee said to HKFP last week that he had a “separate life” to his son.

In a D100 interview on Monday, Lam said that his son had always been rebellious. Phoenix is still immature and his attempt to go to the mainland was “unwise” and he was “playing with fire,” Lam said. However, he also said that he was not worried about his son’s safety.

Lam held a surprise press conference last Thursday claiming that he was arrested in Shenzhen in October last year. He said that he was detained and ill-treated by a “special unit” separate from official mainland police. Since then, his colleagues at the Causeway Bay Bookstore and his girlfriend in the mainland have separately accused him of lying and using their relationship to run his banned books business.

Chantal Yuen is a Hong Kong journalist interested in issues dealing with religion and immigration. She majored in German and minored in Middle Eastern studies at Princeton University.