Foreign passport no amulet in China: Global Times


Reuters Staff February 8, 2018

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Western countries should educate naturalized citizens that their new passport is no “amulet” in China, a hawkish Chinese newspaper said on Thursday, suggesting that detained Swedish citizen Gui Minhai may have thought his foreign passport could shield him from Chinese law.

China confirmed on Tuesday that it had detained Gui, a Hong Kong-based bookseller, after his daughter said Chinese police had seized him from a train last month.

In 2015, Gui was abducted in Thailand while on holiday, one of five Hong Kong booksellers who went missing that year and later appeared in mainland Chinese custody. The four others have returned to Hong Kong.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström said in a statement on Monday that Gui’s detention was a “very serious matter” and that China’s “brutal” intervention in Sweden’s attempts to assist Gui, who Chinese authorities had said had been freed, represented a contravention of international rules on consular support.

“European countries and the U.S. should educate their newly naturalized citizens that the new passport cannot be their amulet in China. If they conduct activities in China, they must obey Chinese law,” an editorial in the Global Times said.

It said Gui, who was born in China and later became a Swedish citizen, often returned to China.

“There are many other ‘foreigners’ like Gui working and living in China. A few of them take advantage of their double identity as both Chinese and foreigner to seek profits and wish to shield themselves from penalties if they breach the law,” the newspaper said.

It said consular support had its boundaries, and China and Sweden should reach a solution to the issue through consultations.

“Sweden’s expectation to strengthen consular assistance to Gui cannot transcend China’s legal procedures,” it said.

Calls for Gui’s release reflected an “extraterritorial mentality”, it added.

“Gui committed a crime in China and China is handling his case according to its law,” it said.

“Now Western public opinion defined the case as political persecution of people with foreign citizenship, arbitrarily demanding China act according to their will. With such contempt toward Chinese law, is there any room for communication?”

Reporting by John Ruwitch; Editing by Michael Perry

Source: Reuters “Foreign passport no amulet in China: Global Times”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


China confirms Swedish citizen and HK bookseller in detention


Reuters Staff February 6, 2018

BEIJING (Reuters) – China confirmed on Tuesday that it had detained Swedish citizen and Hong Kong-based bookseller Gui Minhai, after his daughter said Chinese police had seized him from a train last month.

Gui was abducted in Thailand while on holiday in 2015, one of five Hong Kong booksellers who went missing that year and later appeared in mainland Chinese custody. The four others have returned to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with a guarantee of wide-ranging freedoms, including freedom of speech, but critics accuse Communist Party rulers in Beijing of creeping interference in the city’s affairs.

Gui’s daughter, Angela Gui, said in January that her father was taken from a Beijing-bound train while in the company of two Swedish diplomats who were escorting him to seek medical attention for a neurological disorder.

“Gui Minhai broke Chinese law and has already been subjected to criminal coercive measures in accordance with the law by relevant Chinese authorities,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a regular briefing.

The term “coercive measures” generally refers to detention in China.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström said in a statement on Monday that Gui’s detention was a “very serious matter” and that China’s “brutal” intervention in Sweden’s attempts to assist Gui, who Chinese authorities had said had been freed, represented a contravention of international rules on consular support.

“We demand that our citizen be given the opportunity to meet Swedish diplomatic and medical staff, and that he be released so that he can be reunited with his daughter and family.”

Asked about the statement, ministry spokesman Geng said that China could not accept such “irresponsible” statements from Sweden.

“Although Gui Minhai is a Swedish citizen, the case he is suspected of must be handled in accordance with Chinese law,” he said.

Sweden should understand the serious nature of the case and the “disgraceful” role played by certain Swedish people, Geng said, without giving details.

Rights group Amnesty International said China’s claims about Gui were “ludicrous”.

“This is a brazen and outrageous move by the Chinese authorities. They have yet to provide adequate explanation as to why they took Gui Minhai away while he was traveling with Swedish diplomats. Gui Minhai must be released,” said William Nee, China researcher at Amnesty International.

China’s foreign ministry had previously said that Gui, who published books on the personal lives of Chinese Communist Party leaders, was released in October last year after serving a sentence for a traffic offense in 2003.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Writing by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Nick Macfie

Source: Reuters “China confirms Swedish citizen and HK bookseller in detention”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


U.S. ‘deeply concerned’ by detention of Swedish citizen in China


Reuters Staff January 28, 2018

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. State Department said on Saturday that it was deeply concerned that a Swedish citizen and Hong Kong-based bookseller, Gui Minhai, had been detained in China and called for him to be allowed to leave the country.

The Swedish government has said that Gui, who has published books on the personal lives of President Xi Jinping and other Communist Party leaders, was taken into custody last week while traveling with Swedish diplomats to seek medical treatment in Beijing.

The European Union’s ambassador to China has called on the Chinese authorities to release Gui immediately, echoing demands from Stockholm.

“We are deeply concerned that Swedish citizen Gui Minhai was detained,” State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement.

“We call on Chinese authorities to explain the reasons and legal basis for Mr. Gui’s arrest and detention, disclose his whereabouts, and allow him freedom of movement and the freedom to leave China,” she said.

The United States and European allies would continue to promote “greater respect for human rights in China,” she said.

Asked this week about the Swedish and EU demands for Gui’s release, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman described the appeals as “baseless.”

Gui had been abducted in Thailand while on holiday in 2015, one of five Hong Kong booksellers who went missing that year and later appeared in custody on mainland China. The four others have returned to Hong Kong.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to Chinese rule in 1997 with a guarantee of wide-ranging freedoms, including freedom of speech, but critics accuse Communist Party rulers in Beijing of creeping interference in the city’s affairs.

Chinese authorities said Gui was freed in October after serving a two-year sentence for a traffic-related crime in 2003.

Gui’s daughter Angela told Radio Sweden he was taken off a train by plainclothes police while en route to the capital to get medical attention for a neurological ailment.

Sweden’s Foreign Ministry has twice summoned China’s ambassador to Stockholm to explain the situation.

Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Daniel Wallis

Source: Reuters “U.S. ‘deeply concerned’ by detention of Swedish citizen in China”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Hong Kong bookseller returns from China after three-month absence


A demonstrator wears a mask depicting Causeway Bay Books shareholder Lee Bo during a protest over the disappearance of booksellers, in Hong Kong, China January 10, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

A demonstrator wears a mask depicting Causeway Bay Books shareholder Lee Bo during a protest over the disappearance of booksellers, in Hong Kong, China January 10, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Pro-democracy demonstrators hold up portraits of Causeway Bay Books shareholder Lee Bo (R) during a protest to call for an investigation behind the disappearance of five staff members of a Hong Kong publishing house and bookstore, outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong, China in this January 3, 2016 file photo. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File

Pro-democracy demonstrators hold up portraits of Causeway Bay Books shareholder Lee Bo (R) during a protest to call for an investigation behind the disappearance of five staff members of a Hong Kong publishing house and bookstore, outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong, China in this January 3, 2016 file photo. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/File

A missing Hong Kong bookseller who published books critical of China’s leaders returned to the financial hub on Thursday after a three-month absence and said again he hadn’t been kidnapped, the government said in a statement.

Lee Bo, a British passport holder and bookseller specializing in gossipy books on the private lives and power struggles of China’s leaders, crossed the Lok Ma Chau checkpoint into Hong Kong escorted by an immigration official, the Hong Kong government said in a statement.

Lee and four associates went missing over the past half year, sparking fears Chinese authorities were overriding the “one country, two systems” formula protecting Hong Kong’s freedoms since its return to China from British rule in 1997.

Many people in free-wheeling Hong Kong and some foreign diplomats fear mainland agents illegally captured both Lee and Gui Minhai, a Swedish national.

Lee, who traveled to China without his regular China travel document, was questioned by Hong Kong immigration authorities on his return.

“Because Lee Bo had not provided comprehensive information on how he crossed the border, at this stage he hasn’t been arrested,” the government statement said.

Immigration authorities said they would continue to investigate whether Lee had broken any laws.

Lee told police that he had been assisted by unspecified “friends” in getting into China and hadn’t been “kidnapped”, according to the statement.

He reiterated that he’d traveled to the mainland to assist in an investigation into Gui, who now faces charges for selling and distributing books that are banned in China.

Lee wasn’t reachable on his mobile phone for comment.

Lee, however, had earlier voiced concerns that Gui had been taken by agents from China for “political reasons”, according to a series of personal emails reviewed by Reuters.

Chinese authorities have declined to clarify key details of the disappearances and investigation into Gui, but said law enforcement officials would never do anything illegal, especially not overseas.

(Reporting by James Pomfret, Twinnie Siu and Clare Baldwin; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Source: Reuters “Hong Kong bookseller returns from China after three-month absence”


Hong Kong bookseller voiced fears about China agents before he disappeared


A closed sign is seen outside the Causeway Bay Book in Hong Kong, China January 1, 2016. Picture taken January 1, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

A closed sign is seen outside the Causeway Bay Book in Hong Kong, China January 1, 2016. Picture taken January 1, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

In a series of at least ten emails reviewed by Reuters, Hong Kong bookseller Lee Bo, specializing in gossipy publications about Chinese leaders, said he feared a missing colleague had been taken by agents from China for “political reasons”.

Lee himself went missing in December, weeks after he sent the emails to the daughter of his colleague, Gui Minhai, who is still being held in China.

“We fear that he (Gui) was taken by special agents from China for political reasons,” Lee said in one of the emails dated Nov. 10.

Many people in free-wheeling Hong Kong and some foreign diplomats fear mainland agents illegally captured both Lee, a Hong Kong citizen and British passport holder, and Gui, a Swedish national.

The Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, an agency of China’s State Council, did not respond to a request for comment. China has said its law enforcement officials would never do anything illegal, especially not overseas.

Asked about the emails, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a daily news briefing the media had “already had a lot of coverage” of Lee’s case and that he had nothing else to add.

Lee and four associates went missing over the past half year, sparking fears Chinese authorities were overriding the “one country, two systems” formula protecting Hong Kong’s freedoms since its return to China from British rule in 1997.

Lee said on Chinese television last week that he had not been kidnapped but had sneaked into China illegally to help with an investigation. Mainland authorities were treating him well, he added.

He also said he planned to renounce his British citizenship.

His statement came after a British Foreign Office report last month said it was likely Lee had been “involuntarily removed” to mainland China from Hong Kong.

CONFESSION APPEARED “RIDICULOUS”

Gui, Lee and another colleague remain in custody at an undisclosed location in mainland China. In a tearful confession on Chinese state television in mid-January, Gui said he had voluntarily turned himself in to mainland authorities.

His daughter, Angela Gui, told Reuters at the time the confession appeared “ridiculous” and contrived. Angela Gui, who was born and raised in Sweden and is now studying in Britain, told Reuters she believed Lee had been pressured into making his recent confession.

Lee wrote an email to Angela Gui asking if she knew that her father, who disappeared from the Thai resort of Pattaya in October, had been missing for more than 20 days.

In the series of emails forwarded to Reuters by Angela Gui, dated from Nov. 10-15, Lee appealed to her to take her father’s disappearance to international human rights groups.

“According to (Gui’s wife’s) words retold by the watchman of the building, he left the apartment with several men who claimed to be his friends,” Lee said in the email.

“Perhaps you can do something, and there are a lot of (Gui’s) friends ready to help if you need them. Do tell me what you think and what you want us to do.”

Lee, who is at an undisclosed location in mainland China, could not be reached to verify the contents of the emails in his name.

Two of Lee’s colleagues returned to Hong Kong on Friday and Sunday, refusing to discuss their cases. They also asked police in the city to dismiss their missing person reports.

In 2014, Hong Kong was rocked by street protests calling for democracy and denouncing China’s plan to screen candidates for the 2017 election for its next leader.

The 79 days of demonstrations, in which student-led activists blocked key arteries, became the biggest political challenge to Beijing’s Communist Party leaders in years.

Source: Reuters “Hong Kong bookseller voiced fears about China agents before he disappeared”


Second bookseller detained in China returns to Hong Kong: police


A second Hong Kong bookseller who went missing and was found to have been detained in China returned home on Sunday, refusing to discuss his case, Hong Kong police said.

Cheung Chi Ping was one of five Hong Kong booksellers specializing in gossipy publications about Chinese leaders to go missing last year. A colleague from the same store re-appeared in the city on Friday.

“Cheung Chi Ping requested police to cancel his missing person case and stated that he did not require any assistance from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government or police,” the police said in a statement.

“Cheung refused to disclose other details,” it added.

Two of the others, Gui Minhai and Lee Bo had been outside mainland China when they disappeared. Gui was in Thailand and Lee in Hong Kong.

Gui appeared on state television in January and tearfully confessed to a fatal drink-driving incident over a decade ago. He appeared on Chinese television again late last month with three of his colleagues confirming for the first time they had been detained for “illegal book trading” in mainland China.

British passport holder Lee, in an interview with China’s Phoenix Television last week, said he had not been kidnapped by Chinese authorities, as many suspect, but had sneaked into China illegally and that he would renounce his British citizenship.

The booksellers’ plight had provoked concerns that China was using shadowy tactics to weaken Hong Kong’s broad freedoms under the “one country, two systems” formula under which the global financial hub has been governed since its return to China from British rule in 1997.

Police had said on Wednesday that authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong had told them Lui and his colleagues, Cheung Chi Ping and Lam Wing Kee, would be released on bail in coming days.

A number of governments have expressed concern about the disappearances, which some diplomats fear were abductions by Chinese agents.

China’s Foreign Ministry has said its law enforcement officials would never do anything illegal, especially not overseas, and called on foreign governments not to interfere in Hong Kong affairs.

Hong Kong police said they would continue to follow the other missing person cases with the Interpol Guangdong Liaison Office of Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department.

(Reporting by Donny Kwok; Editing by Anne Marie Roantree and Kim Coghill)


Missing bookseller detained in China returns to Hong Kong, police say


A closed sign is seen outside the Causeway Bay Book in Hong Kong, China January 1, 2016. Picture taken January 1, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

A closed sign is seen outside the Causeway Bay Book in Hong Kong, China January 1, 2016. Picture taken January 1, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

One of five missing Hong Kong booksellers specializing in gossipy publications about Chinese leaders and detained in China returned home on Friday, Hong Kong police said.

They did not give further details, other than to say he wanted his missing person case dismissed.

Lui Por was one of five men associated with Causeway Bay Books to go missing and then resurface in police custody in China, sparking fears that Chinese authorities had abducted them.

Their plight provoked concerns that China was using shadowy tactics to weaken Hong Kong’s broad freedoms under the “one country, two systems” formula under which the global financial hub has been governed since its return to China from British rule in 1997.

Two of the men, Gui Minhai and Lee Bo, had been outside mainland China when they disappeared. Gui was in Thailand and Lee in Hong Kong.

“I have deeply reflected on what I have done and very much regret the illegal book trading I have carried out with Gui Minhai,” Lui told Phoenix Television on Sunday.

Police had said on Wednesday that authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong had told them Lui and his colleagues, Cheung Chi Ping and Lam Wing Kee, would be released on bail in coming days.

Lui’s release comes just a day before the opening of China’s annual parliamentary session, the National People’s Congress, in Beijing.

A number of governments have expressed concern regarding the disappearances, which some diplomats fear were abductions, and scepticism about the accounts of their disappearances.

China’s Foreign Ministry has said its law enforcement officials would never do anything illegal, especially not overseas, and called on foreign governments not to interfere in Hong Kong affairs.

(Reporting by Venus Wu in Hong Kong and James Pomfret in Beijing; Writing by Clare Baldwin in Hong Kong; Editing by Nick Macfie)

Source: Reuters “Missing bookseller detained in China returns to Hong Kong, police say”