Hong Kong bookseller disappearances

Controversial Hong Kong bookseller becomes fifth man to go missing in mysterious circumstances

Major shareholder of store which specialised in reading material critical of Communist Party had gone to collect books at Chai Wan warehouse

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 January, 2016, 2:49am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 January, 2016, 4:42pm

A controversial Hong Kong bookseller who specialises in reading material critical of the Chinese Communist Party has gone missing – just weeks after four of his associates disappeared in mysterious circumstances.

The wife of 65-year-old Lee Bo, a major shareholder in Causeway Bay Books, reported her husband missing yesterday afternoon. 

The disappearance of Lee is the fifth such case related to the bookstore, after Gui Minhai, owner of Mighty Current, the publishing house which owns the bookstore, turned up in Thailand after leaving town.

Missing person reports were made to police about three other members of the bookstore’s staff – manager Lam Wing-kei, Lui Bo, general manager of the publishing house and Cheung Jiping, the publishing house’s business manager, on November 5.

Police last night confirmed they had received a report from a 61-year-old woman surnamed Choi yesterday at North Point police station, saying that she could not establish contact with her 65-year-old husband surnamed Lee.

The case has been classified as that of a missing person and is being investigated by the Hong Kong Island Regional Missing Person Unit.

There was no one at the bookstore, which is located in a tiny and worn out commercial building in Causeway Bay, when the Post visited yesterday. Lights in the store were on, the door was not locked, and an iron gate was loosely chained and could be slid half open. Calls to the shop went unanswered.

A phone number posted at the door of the store for customer enquiries was connected to voicemail. As of last night at around 9pm, WhatsApp showed the number was last seen online on Thursday afternoon.

Local Chinese media quoted Mrs Lee saying that her husband was supposed to collect books from the warehouse of the publishing house in Chai Wan on Wednesday evening. However, he was not seen and was out of contact when she arrived the warehouse to look for him.

The bookstore was established in 1994 and was said to be popular among mainland tourists as they could buy politics books banned in their homeland.

Paul Tang Tsz-keung, owner of People’s Book Cafe, a Causeway Bay bookstore which sells books banned on the mainland , said there must be a reason for the consecutive disappearances.

“Lee and Lam are not high-profile people and they have always rejected interviews,” said Tang, who has had business relations with Lee for several years.

“The story should not be as simple as we think,” he said.

He said he and other bookstore owners have not come to any plans regarding the disappearance of their co-workers, but to “act depending on the situation”.