Britain accuses China of serious breach of treaty regarding 'involutarily removed' Hong Kong booksellers
Feb 12, 2016 03:22 AM EST
Britain is accusing China of constituting a "serious breach" of a longstanding bilateral treaty between the 2 countries. This was after knowing that a missing Hong Kong seller of gossipy books on China's leaders was likely to have been "involuntarily removed" from Hong Kong to China.
Reuters reported that British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said, in a six-monthly report presented to the parliament regarding the state of freedoms in the former British colony, that a British passport holder named Lee Bo disappeared in Hong Kong in late December. It was likely that Lee has been brought to China against his will.
"Our current information indicates that Mr. Lee was involuntarily removed to the mainland without any due process under Hong Kong SAR law," Hammond stated.
So far, it has been Britain's strongest indication that Lee was abducted as he was seen in China a month after he went missing. However, Hammond did not give any specific details on the person and the process behind the abduction, said The Guardian.
Lee is among the five booksellers who disappeared in the past months. The other four are Lui Bo, Cheung Jiping, Gui Minhai, and Lam Wingkei who all went missing last October in Shenzhen, Dongguan, Thailand and Hong Kong, respectively.
Hammon pointed out the 1984 treaty regarding the Sino-British Joint Declaration. Through this, China vowed to protect Hong Kong's freedoms (BBC News reported), but have clearly broken its promise by allegedly committing a serious breach. Further, China is said to have weakened the principle of "one country, two systems" that made Hong Kong residents assured of the protection that the Hong Kong legal system provides.
China previously stated that Hong Kong's freedoms gets their full respect and no foreign officials had the right to interfere. Further, Chinese authorities said that three of the five missing Hong Kong booksellers were being investigated for indefinite "illegal activities."
Hammond now urges the authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing to make crucial decisions in maintaining confidence in the system as well as the sanctity of the rights, autonomy and values it advocates. Further, the whole thing is not just about protecting British passport holders but letting a bookseller exercise his freedom of expression.