The United States has called on China to clarify the status of five missing Hong Kong booksellers, saying the case raised serious questions about Beijing’s commitment to Hong Kong’s autonomy under the “one country, two systems” framework.
US State Department spokesman John Kirby told a regular news briefing the US was “deeply concerned” about their disappearances, Reuters reported.
“These cases … raise serious questions about China’s commitment to Hong Kong’s autonomy under the one country, two systems framework, as well as its respect for the protection of universal human rights and fundamental freedoms,” Kirby said.
“We urge China to clarify the current status of all five individuals and the circumstances surrounding their disappearances and to allow them to return to their homes.”
The booksellers are believed by many to have been abducted by mainland agents. They include Lee Bo, 65, a dual British and Chinese national and owner of a publisher and bookstore specializing in books critical of China’s Communist Party leaders.
The British government is still waiting for responses to its diplomatic requests for information and access to Lee, who disappeared from Hong Kong on Dec. 30.
Lee’s wife visited him in a mainland guesthouse on Jan. 23 and issued a statement saying he was healthy and in good spirits, and that he was a witness in an investigation.
Four other booksellers are believed to be still in mainland detention, including Swedish national Gui Min-hai, who disappeared from the Thai resort town of Pattaya last October.
Gui surfaced on Chinese state television this month, stating he had voluntarily turned himself in to Chinese authorities last month over a fatal drunken driving case more than a decade ago.
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