Hong Kong bookseller Lee Po, who went missing three months ago and surfaced on the mainland, is already on his way back over the border after a brief return home.
British citizen Lee, 65, returned on Thursday after disappearing in late December, in a case that has raised alarm over Beijing’s tightening grip. But Lee crossed back into the mainland on Friday afternoon, less than 24 hours after his arrival
“It’s a release with Chinese characteristics,” China expert Willy Lam of the Chinese University of Hong Kong said. “He has not really been fully released ... he needs to report back to China,” he said.
Lee told local authorities again he did not require any police or government assistance. The same requests were made by his two associates – Cheung Chi-ping and Lui Por – when they returned to the city earlier this month after disappearing last October.
When he was interviewed by immigration and police upon his return, Lee stuck to his story that he had voluntarily gone to the mainland to assist in an investigation involving his publishing colleague, Gui Minhai, who also disappeared last year and surfaced later on the mainland.
Lee told local media he would never run a bookstore business again. “I will never publish and sell those books that make things up. The freedom of publication and of speech does not mean that people can make things up,” he said.
Lee said during his time across the border, he had witnessed the mainland’s prosperity and felt proud to be Chinese. He added Hong Kong was still his home and he would never leave the city to settle elsewhere.
The booksellers’ disappearances have led to fears they were kidnapped by mainland agents for selling books that criticised the government.