For months, Chinese authorities were silent over their apparent abductions of five men from a Hong Kong publishing house who produced books highly critical of China’s Communist Party leadership.
Now that silence has broken, with one of the missing men, Gui Minhai, who was last seen in Thailand, reappearing on China’s state-run TV on Sunday where he made a teary “confession.”
In the video, Gui says he voluntarily made his way to China to hand himself over to the authorities (for what was a supposed fatal hit and run accident that occurred in 2003). State media said Gui, who is also a Swedish citizen, is suspected of other undetermined crimes.
Watch Gui’s supposed confession on state-run TV as posted online by Hong Kong Free Press here:
China watchers, Gui’s daughter, and human rights activists have thrown a huge bucket of doubt over the TV confession. Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s East Asia regional director, tweeted some comments about the TV confession worth bullet pointing here:
- In the end, for Beijing it was either this tale or “our political police kidnaped a Swedish publisher in a foreign country.” Easy choice.
- Let’s recap: Gui Minhai, racked by guilt, turns himself over… although he has actually already received a suspended sentence for it. Ok.
- In the video “confession” Gui Minhai self-incriminates; refuses Sweden consular support; asks that no-one looks into how he got back to China.
- A very elaborate script, and a skillful mix of truths, half-truths, and outright lies.
- It’s hard to exclude that this statement wasn’t made under duress, to say the least.
Before the 51-year-old’s TV appearance, Gui was last seen in the resort city of Pattaya on Thailand’s east coast. Here in his condominium, Gui wrote tabloid style books critical of China’s Communist Party leadership for Mighty Current publishing. The books were popular with mainlanders visiting Hong Kong wanting to read material banned in China.
Gui abruptly disappeared in October. Watch this CCTV video of a man who is suspected of kidnapping Gui on the day he disappeared in Thailand:
As you would have seen in the video, a vehicle — which is owned by Gui — enters the condominium’s car park area, and a man watches it intently. The manager of the condominium told The Guardian that the man was Chinese, and he was later seen talking to Giu and then driving off with Gui in the car.
Gui wasn’t to be seen again but a group of men two weeks later, most of whom spoke Chinese, visited and searched his apartment, the manager said.
In that same month that Gui disappeared, three of his Mighty Current co-workers vanished while visiting China’s Guangdong province, which neighbors Hong Kong.
The fifth Mighty Current staff member to disappear was 65-year-old Lee Bo who managed the company’s book store. He vanished from Hong Kong on December 30 in what can only be described as highly suspicious circumstances.
Later Lee’s wife got some very odd phone calls, plus a fax supposedly from him, where he said he was on the mainland assisting with investigations into the disappearance of his co-workers.
The apparent abductions of the five men led to protests in Hong Kong this month, and generated concerns from abroad.
Watch this CBS Evening News report (made before Gui’s “confession”) on the disappearances and the protests: