17 July 2019
Frontline's editor Liu Dawen (R) says an employee was detained and questioned during to a trip to China last year. Photos:, Ming Pao
Frontline's editor Liu Dawen (R) says an employee was detained and questioned during to a trip to China last year. Photos:, Ming Pao

HK magazine staffer grilled during China trip last year

An employee of Hong Kong’s Frontline magazine was said to have been taken away for questioning last October by people who identified themselves as Chinese public security police.

The staffer was detained during a trip to the mainland, according to a Ming Pao Daily News report Friday.

The paper cited Frontline’s chief editor Liu Dawen as saying that the colleague was interrogated for information about the magazine’s operations in Hong Kong, including its authors and writers, as well as its story sources.

The staffer was taken away from a relative’s home in Dongguan on October 24 by over a dozen people who claimed to be public security police.

They did not show any identity documents and insisted on taking the magazine employee to a nearby police station for interrogation, which took four hours to complete.

The employee was grilled on the operations of the magazine and confidential information such as sources of information for story ideas and the list of writers working for the magazine.

The staffer said he or she was only responsible for financial operations and could only disclose such information.

Liu was quoted as saying that he was trying to “recoup” the information that was leaked, and demand an apology from relevant authorities.

Talking about the current controversy over missing Hong Kong booksellers, Liu said the matter raises serious concern over erosion of “One Country, Two Systems”, and that it will heighten worries among Hong Kong people about their safety.

Despite the case involving Lee Bo and his fellow booksellers, Liu said that he is not afraid and that he will not halt his publishing business.

However, he said the incident might have a negative impact on some other publishers of the so-called “banned books””.

Liu added that he was approached in his office early last year by someone who claimed to be from China’s National Security Bureau. During the middle of 2015, he was asked again by those representatives not to publish his Frontline magazine, which deals with political issues, he said.

Liu says he stood firm and refused to comply with the requests.

In other related news, the Hong Kong police said Thursday that they have no further information to disclose apart from the reply they received from the Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department on January 18 confirming that Lee Bo, the co-owner of Causeway Bay Books, is in the mainland.

Former security secretary Regina Ip, who is now a legislator and a member of the Executive Council, said a reciprocal notification mechanism was set up in 2001 between the mainland and Hong Kong.

However, she said she is not sure if Lee Bo’s case is in the scope of the notification mechanism. Given that, she cannot comment on whether the mechanism has failed to work, she said.

The Hong Kong government should seek information from mainland authorities on the case, Ip said.

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