Concerns have been raised after five employees of a publishing company specialising in books that are critical of China’s political establishment have disappeared.
Lee Bo is reportedly the latest publisher with Mighty Current publishing house to go missing. Four of his colleagues have also disappeared in recent months.
The company have a reputation for publishing salacious or ‘gossipy’ books about politicians in mainland China. Their publications are permitted in the more liberal Hong Kong but banned in mainland China.
Lawmaker Albert Ho from Hong Kong told Associated Press that the city has been “shocked and appalled” by the mysterious disappearances. He said: “From the available information surrounding the disappearance of Mr Lee Bo and his partners earlier, we have strong reason to believe that Mr Lee Bo was probably kidnapped and then smuggled back to the mainland for political investigation.”
Mr Bo went missing on Wednesday evening. His wife told Cable TV news channel that she spoke to him via telephone on the night that he disappeared. She said he had explained he was “assisting an investigation” and referred to his colleagues who had disappeared previously, however he did not elaborate.
The telephone number he used appeared to be from Shenzhen; the mainland Chinese city adjacent to Hong Kong.
Mr Ho said that one possible reason for the publishers’ unexplained disappearances could be that the government was concerned about an upcoming book rumoured to be about an old “girlfriend or mistress” of the Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The Chinese government has so far declined to comment on the issue.
Hong Kong Acting Secretary for Security John Lee told reporters that police were “actively” investigating the case and would widen the scope of their probe.
With additional reporting from Associated Press
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