Daughter of missing Hong Kong bookseller Gui Minhai to testify before United States committee
The congressional panel will examine Beijing’s reach beyond its border to silence critics; it has also emerged that Gui may give up his Swedish citizenship
The daughter of detained publisher Gui Minhai has flown to Washington to testify in a hearing on Tuesday to examine the Chinese government’s reach beyond its border, taking the bookseller saga to the international stage again.
In a statement, the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China said Angela Gui would be speaking as a witness in a hearing with the theme “The Long Arm of China: Global Efforts to Silence Critics from Tiananmen to Today”. She will be joined by other witnesses including exiled human rights lawyer Teng Biao.
“This hearing will examine the Chinese government’s reach beyond its borders to stifle critical discussion of its human rights record and repressive policies,” the commission said in a statement.
The commission was created by Congress in 2000 with the legislative mandate to monitor human rights and the development of the rule of law in China. It submits annual report to the Congress and the president.
As the news emerged, a long-time friend of Gui Minhai told the Post that Angela received a message recently that the publisher was considering giving up his Swedish citizenship.
“The Swedish government has told Angela that they received a message one or two months ago that Gui is considering giving up his Swedish citizenship,” dissident poet Bei Ling said, recalling what Angela had told him.
Bei, who has known Gui since the 1980s, said he did not know how the message came to the Swedish authorities. But he doubted if Gui said so out of his own free will.
Gui’s plan to give up his Swedish citizenship, if true, came after his associate, Lee Po, told Chinese state media soon after he disappeared that he wanted to give up his British citizenship, raising suspicions about whether he said so out of his own free will.
Since October last year, five people associated with the Mighty Current publishing house and Causeway Bay Books disappeared one after the other.
Gui vanished from Pattaya, Thailand, in October. Lam Wing-kee, Cheung Chi-ping and Lui Por went missing on the mainland in the same month. Lee disappeared from Hong Kong in late December.
Their disappearances led to fears that they had been kidnapped by mainland agents, as their companies specialised in books critical of the Chinese Communist Party.
Author Woo Chih-wai, who worked at Causeway Bay Books for two months before Lee disappeared, said Angela’s testimony in the US would be as a positive move against a regime that yielded to pressure.
“It is a regime that succumbs to pressure more than to a pat on the back, so Angela’s move will produce positive results,” he said.
However, Bei, who is close to Angela, doubted if her action would be effective in helping to secure Gui’s release, although he backed her desire to testify in Washington.
Woo believed the Chinese government had wanted to settle the saga for good and there had been a plan to close the file as early as this month.
“That’s what Lee Po told me during his four-day stay in Hong Kong earlier this month, but apparently the plan didn’t work out,” Woo said.
Gui has been accused of ordering his associates to deliver about 4,000 banned books across the border since October 2014. He remains in detention.