Hong Kong Bookseller Opens Up About ‘Scripted’ China Confession

“He [Lam Wing Kee] has exposed what many have suspected all along: that this was a concerted operation by the Chinese authorities to go after the booksellers.”

The fourth of the five mysteriously disappeared booksellers of Hong Kong, who have been released, held an unexpected press conference Thursday, describing his eight-month long detention ordeal that included a “scripted” confession.

Lee Bo, Lui Bo and Cheung Jipin, the three other booksellers who had been released much earlier, refused to comment on their time in mainland China, believing it safer for their well-being. However, Lam Wing Kee chose to break the silence in defiance of the Chinese government.

Lam, 61, who was charged with “illegal” trading of books and seized in the Chinese city of Shenzhen last October, stated he was blindfolded, spirited away, kept under 24-hour surveillance and questioned for months by a special police force in Beijing. He also said he was given no reason for his detention.

Lam said a televised confession on China that was aired on February, featuring four of the missing men, had been “rehearsed.”

“It was a show, and I accepted it,” he told a news conference, saying he did not have the courage to refuse to do the show. “They gave me the script. I had to follow the script. If I did not follow it strictly, they would ask for a retake.”

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The bookseller claimed he had been sent back to the city with the expressed goal to obtain for state police a list of all known contacts including authors and mail-order based customers of Causeway Bay Books and its sister publishing company Mighty Current.

“If I broke Chinese laws they can sue me, why did the Chinese government grabbed me silently when I crossed the border?” the bookseller said. “This is not just my personal matter or Causeway Bay Books, this is about the human rights of Hong Kong people.”

Lam added the order was a blatant disregard of the “one country, two systems” principle.

Lam said he was instructed to come back to the mainland once he had gathered all the information, but after the exposé, he won't dare to.

“I think the people of Hong Kong should stand up to power and say no,” Lam said. "If I suddenly disappear one day, then everyone will know the reason why. I haven't asked for special protection. We'll have to see how the Hong Kong government protects its own people.”

Oscar Lai

“They behave like some mob… They are just political thugs. They behave like gangsters... and it is very worrying,” Claudia Mo, a Civic party lawmaker, said. “Whatever happened to the basic decency and dignity that we expect from government?”

Now that Lam has reappeared, only Swedish national Gui Minhai is left in the Chinese government’s custody. Earlier this year, a tearful Gui confessed during a television appearance that he went to China of his own free will because he wanted to confess about his involvement in a fatal drunken driving accident that happened a decade ago — a claim that his family thinks is highly dubious.

Read More: The One Thing That Connects Hong Kong’s Missing Booksellers