Nine books written by Hong Kong pro-democracy figures and critics of Beijing have been removed from local public libraries for review, after the authorities cited potential national security law violations.

Hong Kong Central Library
Hong Kong Central Library. File photo: GovHK.

According to Apple Daily’s report on Friday, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) ordered library staff to remove copies of nine books by six authors from the shelves as the titles had to undergo a review by the government. The LCSD confirmed with HKFP on Sunday that they have suspended services relating to the nine books, saying the move was to “avoid breaking the law.”

Among the authors whose books are being vetted are former Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho, ex-Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan, political commentator Bruce Lam and Chinese-American writer and activist Yu Jie and Chinese dissident writer Liao Yiwu.

Hong Kong Nationalism written by Undergrad – an editorial board of the Hong Kong University Students’ Union, was also among the titles that are no longer available.

‘Relevant laws and regulations’

“Following the enactment of the national security law, libraries have to ensure their collections are in compliance with the relevant laws and regulations,” the LCSD told HKFP.

Library banned books
Some of the titles put under review by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. Photos: and the Chinese University of Hong Kong Press.

It added: “When the LCSD finds library titles that may be in breach the national security law, [the department] will handle it in a serious manner.”

It is the second time that the government has removed books from public libraries over national security concerns. Last July, the LCSD took nine books off the shelves by three authors, including high-profile democracy campaigners Joshua Wong and ex-legislator Chan, days after Beijing enacted the sweeping security legislation.

The controversial law, often described as “draconian” by its critics, outlaws secession, subversion, collusion with foreign forces and terrorist acts.

With regard to the nine titles taken down last year, the LCSD said they are still examining the content with other departments to see whether they violated the legislation.

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Kelly Ho has an interest in local politics, education and sports. She formerly worked at South China Morning Post Young Post, where she specialised in reporting on issues related to Hong Kong youth. She has a bachelor's degree in Journalism from the University of Hong Kong, with a second major in Politics and Public Administration.