Lam Wing-kee, a bookseller from Hong Kong who had been secretly arrested and confined by the Chinese government, is free and is speaking openly about how he was treated. As The Washington Post reports, Wing-kee is one of five employees of a Hong Kong publishing company known for publishing works critical of the communist party who suddenly disappeared in 2015.
As the Post notes, Lam’s story of imprisonment and mistreatment “indicates that the worst fears of Hong Kong’s population have come true: China, intolerant of dissent and free speech, is exporting its police state tactics to their streets and beyond, despite the pledge of ‘one country, two systems.’ China feels unbound by the rules of others, especially rules guarding liberal values such as democracy and free speech, and will go to great lengths to repress them.”
Lam had originally been released to provide the Chinese authorities with hard drives containing information on who had bought books from his company. However, he instead took the courageous move of speaking out.
Freedom of speech and freedom of the press are important prerequisites for a free society. While Hong Kong has a long tradition of freedom, the Chinese government’s willingness to infringe upon these rights is a deeply worrying sign.