Lam Wing-kee, one of the five booksellers abducted by China in 2015 for selling politically sensitive books, is planning to reopen his bookstore in Taiwan.
The 62-year-old has vowed to reopen Causeway Bay Bookstore, which was closed after getting entangled in politics between Hong Kong and China, as a "symbol of resistance".
"Hong Kong's protection for the fourth estate is just incomparable with [that of] Taiwan," Lam told Nikkei Asian Review, adding the store is expected to be open in the second half of the year. He also said that the re-opening of Causeway, which was famous for selling books critical of Chinese leaders, would be funded by anonymous pro-democracy activists from Hong Kong.
"It's 90% for sure now. The only thing is to find the right people and place," the former manager of the bookstore said and added that this time he is not going to run the place on day-to-day basis, and would rather serve as an adviser.
Among the five abductees, only four including Lam were released by China. The fifth man, a Swedish national – Gui Minhai – still remains in custody. Minhai was abducted while holidaying in Thailand.
Soon after his release, Lam came out in public and revealed details about his detention and confirmed that he was interrogated for months. He even alleged that he and three other detainees were forced to make a confession of "illegal trading". China considers Taiwan its renegade province and relations between the two countries have worsened over the past one year.
Taiwan has in recent years encouraged a new tradition of independent bookstores and press freedom.
Talking about the new strong practice in Taiwan, Lam said he was quite impressed with the bookstore network in the country, which he thinks would "help sow the seeds of new ideas in Hong Kong".
While Ross Feingold, a political analyst who advises on Taiwan and Hong Kong political affairs, said, "Whether a bookstore that offers materials critical of personalities in China appeals to Taiwan readers, or whether a Taiwan location can be an effective platform to reach the original customer base of Hong Kong readers remains to be seen.