Former Causeway Bay bookseller Lam Wing-kee has called the new deal between Hong Kong and mainland police on detention notifications “meaningless.”

On Thursday, the government announced that Hong Kong and Beijing have agreed on a faster notification system to let the city’s authorities know when residents are detained by police over the border.

Lam Wing-kee. Photo: HKFP/Ellie Ng.

As part of the new deal, both sides will receive notification within 30 days for cases involving terrorist activities or suspected offences of endangering national security. The arrangement will take effect from February 1 next year.

The founder of Causeway Bay Books, Lam went missing from Shenzhen and returned to Hong Kong last year to claim that he was “kidnapped” and detained. The Hong Kong government only received notification about his detention on the mainland months after he was detained.

The talks came after Lam’s revelations, but Secretary for Security John Lee did not comment on whether the new mechanism was related to the case.

Following the announcement on Thursday, Lam said that he was detained by a “central special case unit,” which is not included under the notification system. He also said the mainland government could tell Hong Kong police that a detainee was being held at a certain location, then transfer them to another place, RTHK reported.

Lam expressed concern that his charge of “operating an illegal business” – referring to his distribution of banned books to the mainland – would be changed to another offence if a national security law is passed in Hong Kong.

“When [Basic Law] Article 23 is legislated, would it mean that they would have a right to send me back?” Lam said. “I worry about my personal safety.”

Lam Cheuk-ting. File Photo: In-Media.

Lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting expressed concerns over the definition of national security and said it must not be arbitrarily twisted or changed by mainland China. “If that is the case, many Hongkongers will accidentally breach the law.

He also asked whether a Hong Kong person sharing comments on social media criticising mainland China’s policies could be also be found to have violated the law.

Karen is a journalist and writer covering politics and legal affairs in Hong Kong for HKFP. She has also written features on human rights, public space, regional legal developments, social and grassroots activism, and arts & culture. She is a BA and LLB graduate from the University of Hong Kong.