police break silence on missing Hong Kong bookseller
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[January 30, 2016]
HONG KONG (Reuters) - Chinese police
have made their first statement on the fate of one of five missing Hong
Kong booksellers, believed by many to have been abducted by mainland
agents, acknowledging widespread concerns but offering no fresh
Lee Bo, 65, a dual British and Chinese national and owner of a
publisher and bookstore specializing in books critical of China's
Communist Party leaders, disappeared from Hong Kong on Dec. 30.
The disappearances have prompted fears that mainland Chinese
authorities may be using shadowy tactics that erode the "one
country, two systems" formula under which Hong Kong has been
governed since its return to China from British rule in 1997.
In a rare but brief letter to Hong Kong media on Friday, police in
the southern Chinese province of Guangdong offered no fresh
information and did not address their Hong Kong counterparts'
requests for a meeting with Lee, government radio station RTHK
The letter repeated two points earlier released by the Hong Kong
police - that Lee had sent a letter stating he went to the mainland
on his own accord and that mainland authorities had confirmed to
Hong Kong that he was "understood" to be on the mainland, RTHK
"If there is news, we will notify (Hong Kong) in a timely fashion,"
The British government is still waiting for responses to its
diplomatic requests for information and access to Lee.
Lee's wife visited him in a mainland guesthouse last weekend. She
issued a statement saying he was healthy and in good spirits, and
that he was a witness in an on-going investigation.
The four other booksellers are believed to be still in mainland
detention, including Swedish national Gui Min-hai, who disappeared
from the Thai resort town of Pattaya last October.
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He surfaced on Chinese state television this month, stating that he
had voluntarily turned himself into Chinese authorities last month
over a fatal drink driving case more than a decade ago.
As international diplomatic concern intensifies, the European Union
on Friday delivered some of its strong criticism yet of China's
human rights record.
In a statement on its website, the 28-nation bloc's China delegation
called recent televised confessions by detained Chinese and European
citizens "unacceptable". It described the disappearance of the
booksellers a "worrying trend".
China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying later described
the EU's criticism as irresponsible and "not constructive".
Britain handed Hong Kong back to China under agreements that its
broad freedoms, way of life and vaunted legal system would remain
unchanged for 50 years.
(Reporting by Greg Torode; Editing by Nick Macfie)
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