China will talk to Hong Kong authorities following complaints over the abduction of five booksellers from Hong Kong who sold material critical of Beijing.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying (梁振英) last week wrote to the Chinese government “to reflect Hong Kong people's concern over the Causeway Bay bookstore incident, and to propose reviewing the notification mechanism between the two places,” the Hong Kong government says.

The Chinese government has since “agreed to start discussions on the notification mechanism between Hong Kong and the Mainland,” it says.

Leung’s letter covered four areas.

“It enquired how Mainland authorities handle cases involving Hong Kong people breaking Mainland laws and whether Mainland law enforcement agencies had enforced laws in Hong Kong,” the Hong Kong government said in an earlier statement.

“The letter questioned whether the current notification mechanism can effectively protect the interests of Hong Kong people being detained on the Mainland and whether the mechanism is transparent.”

And it “discussed whether the handling of the Causeway Bay bookstore incident affected the ‘one country, two systems’ principle and Hong Kong people's rights and freedom enshrined in the Basic Law. They include freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of the individual.”

The response from Beijing was received this morning and the two parties will now liaise to work out follow-up arrangements.

The abduction and detention of five booksellers by China has drawn widespread criticism as many fear Beijing's continued encroachment into Hong Kong. The five men who disappeared late last year all worked at a Causeway Bay bookshop, known for selling material critical of China. They all later reappeared in China, and told media they were collaborating in an investigation voluntarily. However, one of them, Lam Wing Kee (林榮基), broke the silence on his detention earlier this month.

Leung, speaking to reporters last week, said the Hong Kong government will also review the notification mechanism itself.

“The review is to expedite notification and increase transparency, which allows the government to learn the whereabouts of Hong Kong people in order to inform their families, protect their personal safety and legal rights, and provide assistance.”

He added that Hong Kong police have been investigating the bookstore case and have contacted Lam “to more about the incident.”

First Editor: J. Michael Cole
Second Editor: Olivia Yang