China denies it met daughter of detained bookseller Gui Minhai and offered her a visa in exchange for her silence

11-Feb-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

China has denied meeting the daughter of detained Hong Kong bookshop owner and publisher Gui Minhai, after she claimed that neutral intermediaries purporting to work on behalf of Chinese authorities tried to “silence her” in exchange for a visa to the country.

Angela Gui told Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet that the self-professed representatives had met her in late January in Stockholm, the country’s capital. They introduced themselves as intermediaries who had talked to and received information directly from China’s ambassador to Sweden, Gui Congyou.

Angela Gui said she was told her father could be released in the future but that he had to first be tried in court. The representatives also promised to arrange a visa for her to enter China, but only if she “kept quiet” and ensured the case got no media attention, the paper reported.

She declined to reveal how many people took part in the meeting or where in Stockholm it was held.

The Chinese embassy in Sweden released a statement on Wednesday denying her claims.

“The embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Sweden would like to solemnly state that the Chinese side has never authorised and will not authorise anyone to engage with Gui Minhai’s daughter,” the statement read.

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It said Gui Minhai’s case was being handled in accordance with the law, “instead of the so-called ‘China representative’ claimed by Gui Minhai’s daughter or the press”.

It added: “We hope that some people will not try to gain publicity for themselves by making up a so-called ‘China representative’.”

Gui Minhai, 54, a Chinese-born naturalised Swedish citizen, was embroiled in the saga of missing booksellers in Hong Kong, the full details of which remain hazy to this day.

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Between October and December 2015, five associates of Causeway Bay Books and Mighty Current publishing house vanished, one after another, from Thailand, Hong Kong and mainland China. Their unexplained disappearance sparked fears they had been taken away by mainland agents because of books they published, which related salacious gossip about the country’s leaders.

All five later reappeared in custody on the mainland and were investigated for their “illegal business” of delivering about 4,000 banned books from Hong Kong to 380 customers across the border since October 2014.

Gui, owner of the store and the publishing house, was released in October 2017 from a sentence he was serving for his involvement in a fatal 2003 hit-and-run accident. He was subsequently rearrested three months later over allegations of leaking state secrets abroad.

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Lee Cheuk-yan, former chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which has been calling for Gui’s release, said the whole case was “absurd”.

He said there was no need for Angela Gui to go to China if her father was to appear in court and the media spotlight would still be on the case even if she chose to keep silent.

“If he appears in court, via the proper channels, Gui would have to make decisions on his own, such as if he agreed to admit guilt through forced video confessions. Angela being there would not make any difference,” Lee said.

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Angela Gui said the incident was “completely bizarre”.

“They expect me to agree to a silence promise in exchange for a visa and an arbitrary promise that the chances are better for my father to be released. I am disappointed that they would take on such a tactic and find it hard to understand that they really think I’m so stupid,” the newspaper quoted her as saying.

The Post has contacted her for comment.


Category: China

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