The government should lodge a strong protest with mainland authorities over jail sentences handed by a Chinese court to two Hong Kong journalists, said bookseller Lam Wing-kee, who returned to Hong Kong last month after an 8-month detention in China.
The jailing of the journalists marks another violation of the “one country, two systems” principle, which Hong Kong cannot afford to ignore, Lam said.
Accusing Beijing of trying to curb free speech and press freedom in Hong Kong, Lam said the Hong Kong government must act to preserve the rights of local citizens.
The comments came after two veterans in Hong Kong’s publishing industry were given jail terms by a Shenzhen court Tuesday on charges that they operated an illegal business that sent political magazines to the mainland.
Wang Jianmin, 62, publisher of two political affairs magazines New-Way Monthly and Multiple Face, was sentenced to five years and three months imprisonment by the Nanshan District Court, while Guo Zhongxiao, 41, editor-in-chief of the magazines, was given two years and three months in jail.
New-Way Monthly and Multiple Face, which began publication in 2010 and 2012 respectively, had gained a reputation for revealing the innermost secrets of the Chinese regime.
The publications specialized in chatter about the Chinese leadership even as authorities in Guangdong and other provinces in southern China began cracking down on “illegal and harmful” publications from Hong Kong and Taiwan since May 2010.
Wang and Guo, who are both Hong Kong permanent residents, pleaded guilty in November last year after they were taken away from their homes in Shenzhen in May 2014.
They had been detained in the mainland since.
Shenzhen prosecutors accused the duo of selling illegal magazines to mainland readers.
Guo’s wife told the Hong Kong Economic Journal that there is nothing she can do but accept the court ruling.
But bookseller Lam, who made explosive revelations last month about his long detention in China, said the Hong Kong government should not just sit and watch in the wake of the latest developments.
If the government doesn’t lodge a strong protest over the jailing of the Hong Kong residents, it will suggest that the Basic Law, which is based on the 1984 Sino-UK Joint Declaration aimed at preserving Hong Kong’s autonomy, has lost its meaning, Lam said.
Democratic Party lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan, who has been helping Lam since the latter returned to Hong Kong on June 14, also urged the government to take the initiative and not remain idle with regard to the case of the two jailed journalists.
It is worrisome that Hongkongers are now under risk of being prosecuted in the mainland for actions that are considered legal in Hong Kong, Ho said.
The Independent Commentators Association and the Hong Kong Journalists Association have also expressed concern about the journalists’ detention.
Beijing’s selective suppression of publications will jeopardize freedom of press in Hong Kong and the public’s right to know, they said, calling on China to respect the “one country, two systems”.
[Chinese version 中文版]
- Contact us at [email protected]