The central government in Beijing has agreed to begin talks over the communication mechanism between Hong Kong and the mainland, following the return of the bookseller Lam Wing-kee.

Lam went missing from Shenzhen last year but the Hong Kong government only received notification months later about his detention on the mainland. Lam returned to Hong Kong two weeks ago and revealed details of his “kidnapping” and detention.

James To and Lam Wing-kee. Photo: Gene Lin/HKFP.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying then wrote to the central government last week to express concern over the missing bookseller incident, and to propose a review of the existing notification mechanism.

The government received a reply from the central government on Monday agreeing to start the discussion.

China’s Ministry of Public Security said in a statement that the existing mechanism had been implemented for more than ten years and “it needs to be improved.”

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying. File photo: GovHK screenshot.

The ministry said it had invited the relevant departments of the Hong Kong government to form a delegation to visit Beijing soon to discuss the issue.

It added that the authorities of relevant provinces and cities would brief the Hong Kong delegation about the case of Lam Wing-kee, and a Hong Kong suspect who escaped to the mainland after an alleged robbery and murder case.

According to the ministry, by the end of 2015 the mainland authorities had notified the Hong Kong police of the detention of 6,172 Hong Kong residents, and mainland authorities were notified of the detention of 6,934 mainland residents in Hong Kong.

See also: Returned bookseller Lam Wing-kee meets with police to discuss his ‘kidnap’ and detention in China

In a statement, the Chief Executive “expressed gratitude” to the central government for its positive response.

The government said it would liaise with the central authorities and relevant departments in the mainland to work out follow-up arrangements.

Lam Wing-kee said after his return to Hong Kong that he was kidnapped from Shenzhen to Ningbo last October, and was kept in solitary confinement until he was transferred to Shaoguan to work at a library. But the Guangdong police only confirmed to Hong Kong in February that he was under criminal compulsory measures and being investigated for alleged illegal activities on the mainland, without giving details such as his whereabouts.

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.