Causeway Bay Books
|Causeway Bay Books|
Causeway Bay Books (銅鑼灣書店), is an independent bookstore and upstairs bookstore in Hong Kong. It is popular with people from mainland China looking for books on Chinese politics and politicians that are not available in the People's Republic. In late 2015, five people associated with the store disappeared, sparking international concern.
It was founded in 1994 by Lam Wing-kee. Located in Hong Kong Island on the second floor at 531 Lockhart Road, Causeway Bay, the store occupies an area of nearly 300 square feet (28 m2). In addition to general literary history books, the store also sells a lot of books on topics that are considered sensitive and therefore banned in China. Many mainland Chinese people coming to Hong Kong as tourist will make a special trip to the bookstore to purchase books on politics.
In 2014, Lam Wing-kei sold the bookstore to Mighty Current Media Ltd., but stayed on as its manager. From September 2014, the company had three shareholders: Gui Minhai (34%), Sophie Choi (34%) and Lui Bo (32%). According to industry sources, Mighty Current is a prolific publisher with a number of publishing subsidiaries, and this group may be responsible for 30 to 60 percent of the output of salacious books about Chinese political figures that are widely available at newsstands and in book stores, including one at Hong Kong International Airport.
- Lui Bo (呂波, born 1970), the manager and one of the three shareholders of Mighty Current, whose last known location was in the bookstore. On 14 October 2015, he logged in for the last time onto the bookstore computer. Unconfirmed sources state that he was taken away from his wife's home in Shenzhen.
- Gui Minhai (桂民海, born 1966), a Swedish national and one of the three shareholders of Mighty Current, was taken away from his home in Pattaya, Thailand by an unknown man on 17 October 2015. Gui had written some 200 books during his ten years as author/publisher. He was last heard from on 6 November when he called his wife to tell her that he was safe but was unwilling to reveal his whereabouts. Gui's family contacted the Swedish embassy, and the Swedish police filed a report through Interpol. The Thai authorities have no record of him leaving the country.
- According to Bei Ling, there were rumours that a book was the main reason of Gui's disappearance. Lee Bo thought so too. The publication is an e-book entitled Xi Jinping and his Mistresses. There are two versions, the first version has 135 pages, the second version has 155 pages. They are published at the end of January and the start of February 2016.
- Lam Wing-kee (林榮基, born 1955), the founder of Causeway Bay Books, has been missing since 24 October 2015. He habitually spent long hours at the bookshop and occasionally slept there. His wife filed a missing persons report with the police on 5 November and his family received a telephone call from him several hours later; Lam returned to Hong Kong from the mainland eight months after he disappeared and immediately went to the police station to cancel his missing person's report, refusing all other comment. Three days later, on the day he was due to return to the mainland, he held a press briefing during which he claimed that he was detained by the mainland officials at the Hong Kong-China border control in Shenzhen on 24 October 2015. Without being told what offence he had committed, he was stripped of his rights of access to a lawyer and to inform family members of his detention and taken to Ningbo and held under 24-hour guard by the Central Task Force, which reports to central leadership. After March 2016, Lam was transferred to Shaoguan, where he worked in a library, but was prevented from leaving the mainland. and released back to Hong Kong conditional upon retrieving a hard drive from the bookstore containing lists of readers who had bought books from his business and without divulging any details of his detention. He also stated that his confession on mainland TV in February was scripted, and that Lee Bo's televised confession was similarly forced.
- Cheung Jiping (張志平, born 1983), a manager of Mighty Current, was taken away from his wife's home in Fenggang, Dongguan by at least a dozen men in plainclothes.
- Lee Bo (aka Paul Lee, 李波, born 1950), a British citizen and the husband of Sophie Choi, who is in turn one of the three shareholders of Mighty Current. Lee regularly helped out in the bookstore. Lee worked at Joint Publishing until he started at the bookstore. Since the disappearances of four of his colleagues, he had been doing anonymous interviews with BBC and various media. Lee was last seen on 30 December 2015, while delivering books in Chai Wan to a certain unknown client. Choi, who had been expecting Lee home for dinner at around 7.15 pm on 30 December, raised the alarm when he failed to return home.
FCO report to UK Parliament
In its semi-annual report on Hong Kong for the second half of 2015, British Foreign Secretary said: "The unexplained disappearance of five individuals associated with a Hong Kong bookstore and publishing house has raised questions in Hong Kong. I am particularly concerned by the situation of Mr Lee Po, a British citizen. The full facts of the case remain unclear, but our current information indicates that Mr Lee was involuntarily removed to the mainland without any due process under Hong Kong SAR law. This constitutes a serious breach of the Sino-British Joint Declaration on Hong Kong and undermines the principle of “One Country, Two Systems” which assures Hong Kong residents of the protection of the Hong Kong legal system. We have called, in our contacts with the Chinese government at the highest level, for Mr Lee's immediate return to Hong Kong. We urge the Chinese and Hong Kong SAR governments to reassure the people of Hong Kong that law enforcement in the Hong Kong SAR is exclusively the responsibility of the Hong Kong SAR authorities, and that the fundamental rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents will continue to be fully protected, and respected by all, in accordance with the Joint Declaration and Basic Law."
Destruction of stocks
Up until the disappearances, the bookshop maintained a stock of books for sale – in excess of 100,000 units – in two warehouses. One of the warehouses, containing some 45,000 books, was emptied according to the instructions of shareholder Sophie Choi, and one helper at the bookshop said that Choi ordered the stock destroyed in the hope that the return of Lee Bo, her husband, would be expedited.
- 港專社會科學研究中心 (2014). "《樓上書店》" (PDF).
- 紫荊 (in Chinese). 串智有限公司. 2007. p. 27.
香港的三條主要書店街旺角西洋菜街、銅鑼湾 5000 背後的駱克道、中環街巿的域 多利皇後街,都有這些銷售內地圆書的"樓上書店"。如時代廣場對面的"人民書店" , 銅鑼湾 8000 背後的"銅鑼灣書店"、"尚書房"、"大陸書店"、"國風堂"、"文星"等等。
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- "新聞百科：中央專案組極秘密 權力凌駕公檢法".
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- "At least 45,000 banned books were destroyed, says last person to work at Causeway Bay Books".