Hong Kong Public Libraries have removed two picture books titled Beijing Tour and Hong Kong Tour by Taiwanese author Sun Hsin-yu, according to reports from Hong Kong media outlets. Both books were found to be missing from library shelves and contained the number “64” as well as a statue resembling the Goddess of Democracy.

Ming Pao reported today that the picture books Beijing Tour and Hong Kong Tour were no longer available on the shelves at Hong Kong Central Library in Causeway Bay and Chai Wan Public Library. In response to Ming Pao’s inquiry, library staff mentioned that “some books may have been taken for reviewing.” They also expressed uncertainty about whether the books were permanently removed or if they would be restocked on the shelves soon.

However, “Hong Kong Tour” can still be found on the shelves at Eslite Bookstore in Hong Kong, and other picture books by Sun Hsin-yu are available for borrowing from Hong Kong public libraries.

“Hong Kong Tour” contains scenes related to social movements, including an airport boarding gate marked with the number “64” and a protest march in Causeway Bay. The march features a Goddess of Democracy statue among the crowds, with people holding slogans like “Democracy in China” and “Return Power to the People.”

In 2021, Hong Kong Public Libraries initiated a review of books for potential violations of the National Security Law imposed by Beijing in 2020. Over the past two years, a wide range of books authored by political activists, journalists, and former legislators in the democracy camp were removed by the library authorities.

This time, the books are suspected to have been removed because they contained the number “64” in their content, which is associated with the Tiananmen Massacre crackdown in China in 1989. This term has become increasingly sensitive in Hong Kong since the National Security Law was imposed in 2020.

Sun Hsin-yu, when interviewed, said she was “unaware” of the cultural policy in Hong Kong and China. She expressed feeling “regrettable” for Hong Kong people not being able to read her works if her picture books are permanently removed.

Sun mentioned in her own Facebook post that her book Beijing Tour was adapted into a simplified Chinese version after she received the Bologna Ragazzi Award for it but has always been unavailable in China's market, “without any explanation upon inquiries,” she added.

She also stated that she merely aims to illustrate Hong Kong from a Taiwanese perspective. However, in a society where accusations are arbitrarily enforced, self-censorship is no longer sufficient. “We can only feel deeply regrettable and then cherish all the freedom that Taiwan enjoys even more,” she said.

The Leisure and Cultural Services Department, the authority overseeing the management of public libraries, responded to Ming Pao, stating that if any book is suspected of violating local laws, endangering national security, containing inappropriate content, or having content that clearly deviates from facts, public libraries have a responsibility to remove them from shelves for “review.” If it is confirmed that the content does not violate the above principles, books deemed “appropriate” will be returned to the shelves.

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TNL Editor: Kim Chan (@thenewslensintl)

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