Hong Kong officials are heading to Beijing tomorrow (July 5) to talk with the Chinese central government about being notified if city residents are detained, after the disappearance of five booksellers raised concerns over the city’s autonomy.
Hong Kong’s chief justice and head of security will lead a delegation that will meet with the Ministry of Public Security and the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office of the State Council. The goal is an improved “detainee notification mechanism,” which currently only applies if citizens are detained in Guangdong, chief executive Leung Chun-ying said this morning (July 4).
The meeting comes after the mysterious disappearance of five Hong Kong booksellers last year, who are widely believed to have been kidnapped by Chinese officials for selling books critical of the Communist Party. Lam Wing-kee, one of the booksellers who recently returned, said he was abducted, and held against his will for months without being allowed to see a lawyer.
During the meeting, Beijing will brief the Hong Kong delegation about Lam’s case for the very first time. No decisions will be made at the meeting, Leung said.
The current notification mechanism only exists between Hong Kong and Guangdong police, and has been in place since 2011. Amid the public concerns about the missing booksellers, Leung wrote last month to Beijing to ask to re-examine the mechanism.
Earlier Leung told South China Morning Post that he hopes the notification mechanism will apply to all of China, which, if it happens, will give Hong Kong the same standards as a foreign government.
“The starting point … is that we want to know as soon as possible when a Hong Kong resident is arrested by a jurisdiction outside of Hong Kong,” Leung said. “That applies to foreign governments and should also apply to the mainland, because we are two systems.”
Echo Huang contributed reporting.