Thousands of people took to the streets of Hong Kong on 10 January to protest over the disappearance of five people known to be linked with a publisher of books banned in mainland China. Demonstrators suspect that the five have been detained by Chinese authorities because of their involvement in the publishing of dissident material.
Lee Bo, 65, was the latest of the five to go missing, and was last seen at the warehouse of publisher Mighty Current on 30 December 2015. His disappearance follows that of Gui Minhai, Lui Bo, Cheung Ji-ping and Lam Wing-kei, who all worked at the company.
Many worry this is another example of China trampling on Hong Kong's autonomy. Hong Kong was handed back to China by Britain in 1997 with the stipulation that Hong Kong would not be affected by Chinese Communist law for 50 years – known as the One Country, Two Systems model. The scenes on 10 January was reminiscent of 2014's pro-democracy Umbrella Movement, where protesters marched and organised sit-ins against proposed reforms to the electoral system.
Mighty Current was known for publishing books banned by the Chinese Communist authorities, often on particular scandals. It is thought that the publishers were preparing a book about Chinese premier Xi Jingping when they start disappearing. A letter and video from Lee Bo, saying that he did not understand the fuss around his departure and that he is assisting the Chinese authorities with an investigation, surfaced recently – though many suspect that he was forced into making them.
Beijing has yet to comment on the cases.