Hong Kong police are seeking answers from their mainland counterparts over the mysterious disappearance of a bookseller and his associates. Lee Bo, 65, is the fifth missing person related to Causeway Bay Books, which sells books about gossip on mainland politics, power struggles and scandals involving government officials.
Lee's disappearance sparked protests at Beijing's liaison office on Sunday because many people are afraid that mainland agents may have overstepped their bounds by secretly arresting him in Hong Kong and then taking him across the border. This would be a serious infringement of the "one country, two systems" policy.
Acting Secretary for Security John Lee Ka-chiu said on Sunday that the police's Regional Missing Persons Unit of Hong Kong Island was conducting "a thorough and professional investigation" into this matter, including looking at CCTV footage from around the location where the missing men were last seen.
Lee added that Hong Kong police have already gone through the official channels to see if any Hongkongers have been arrested on the mainland, and are waiting for a reply.
He stressed that the only people who could enforce the law in Hong Kong were the city's own relevant authorities, and the law protected everyone here.
Chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China Albert Ho Chun-yan said if Lee Bo and the others have really been taken away by mainland officers, as Lee's wife suspects, then the city's autonomy is being severely threatened.
"Hong Kong people are shocked and appalled. How can mainland officers come to Hong Kong and make arrests? This is terrifying," said Ho.
In a video posted on YouTube, hacker group Anonymous allegedly threatened to attack the official websites of mainland authorities in the wake of the missing booksellers, and expressed disappointment that Hong Kong was not being run according to the "one country, two systems" principle.
Timeline of disappearances of those related to Causeway Bay Books:
Mid-October: Mighty Current Publishing Company owner Gui Minhai went on holiday in Pattaya, Thailand. His whereabouts since he left Hong Kong are unknown.
Late October: Bookstore manager Lam Wing-kei, general manager of the publishing house Lui Bo, and business manager Cheung Jiping, each went missing after they visited Shenzhen separately.
November 6: Lam telephoned his wife saying he was "all right" but did not mention where he was at that time. A day before his wife had sought help from police.
December 30: Lee was last seen in the Chai Wan warehouse of Mighty Current, the publishing house that owns the bookstore. He was there to deliver books to a customer. Lee's wife said her husband had called her from Shenzhen the night he disappeared. He told her he was "assisting in an investigation" concerning the missing associates. She found it strange that her husband had talked to her in Putonghua instead of Cantonese. But a police source told SCMP there was no record of Lee leaving Hong Kong.
January 2: Lee called his wife in the morning and told her he was "all right" so far.
January 2: Protests were held at the liaison office in Sheung Wan.