"Hong Kong publisher kidnapped in Thailand and taken to China"

Magnus Fiskesjö's picture

According to the BBC and other reports listed below, Gui Minghai, the Hong Kong-based publicist, writer, scholar, and owner of a political bookstore, and three associates in Hong Kong have been "disappeared" (arrested-unconfirmed), apparently for publishing things inconvenient to somebody in China. Apparently, several weeks ago, Gui was kidnapped/taken from his vacation home in Thailand, by Chinese police. The circumstances are unclear; I am not aware of any Thai commentary yet; and no journalist seems to have been able to get any confirmation from any Chinese authorities (of course, a familiar pattern in Chinese "disappearances"). 

Mr. Gui Minghai is also known by his nickname Ahai, and is a Swedish citizen. I knew him in China, and in Sweden, where he earned an MA degree at Gothenburg University, and I last saw him in Hong Kong in 2012. 

His name Gui Minghai has been miswritten as "Gui Haiming" by the Guardian and by the RFA which apparently mis-transcribed his name from its own RFA Chinese service, where it is rendered correctly as Gui Minghai, and correctly with the nickname Ahai. Sadly this error is now being circulated by other media (again, "as usual"). 

For the best report, see BBC News 10 November 2015, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-34782266 ("Hong Kong bookstore disappearances shock publishing industry")

And also see, on the alleged Chinese police-engineered kidnapping in Thailand: 
http://en.boxun.com/2015/11/06/hong-kong-publisher-kidnapped-in-thailand-and-returned-to-c...  (some places miswrites Gui Minghai as Gui Minhai)

And more: 
http://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/missing-11062015110112.html (name miswritten as "Gui Haiming")
http://www.rfa.org/mandarin/Xinwen/2-11062015102817.html  (in Chinese, name correct)
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/nov/09/hong-kong-publishers-gui-haiming-lu-bo-zhang-... (name miswritten as "Gui Haiming")
http://www.relatest.com/20151110664126976999993344/ (link to the Guardian) 
http://www.kui.name/event/2015-11-07/銅鑼灣書店老闆+遊泰離奇失聯_n1211914.htm (in Chinese)

The best Swedish report so far (although citing the misspelled name):


--Magnus Fiskesjö (Associate professor, Dept. Anthropology, Cornell University)


Readers who have been following this issue will be aware that the number of Hong Kong residents associated with this case who have disappeared mysteriously has now risen to five. The latest person is a British national, and may have been abducted within Hong Kong then taken across the PRC border. There is a widespread presumption that all five are under detention in China, perhaps related to a plan to publish a book about President Xi Jinping's personal life.

The case is well summarized by Jackie Sheehan on the China Policy Institute Blog of the University of Nottingham: "One country, two systems and five disappearances".

See also "Philip Hammond presses China over UK citizen among missing booksellers"

Thanks. I posted a related comment yesterday on the Thailand-Laos-Cambodia (TLC) list, about the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights' criticism of Thailand for multiple forced disappearances (and added a comment on Gui Minhai, abducted from Thailand on 17 October 2015, and his 4 kidnapped colleagues, see the end of this post) :



6 January 2016

GENEVA (Issued as received) – The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein on Wednesday urged the Thai Government to take decisive and sustained efforts to investigate the whereabouts of at least 82 people listed as disappeared, including respected lawyer Somchai Neelapaijit who went missing nearly 12 years ago.

Zeid also called on the Thai Government to criminalize enforced disappearance in its legislation, in line with international standards.

“All of the families of those who have disappeared have the right to know the truth regarding the disappearance of their kin, as well as any progress and the results of investigations,” the High Commissioner said. 

On 29 December 2015, Thailand’s Supreme Court upheld a decision by the Appeals Court to acquit five police officers accused of involvement in the abduction and disappearance of Somchai, a Muslim lawyer who went missing on 12 March 2004 while defending people arrested under martial law in the restive south. The suspects had accused the authorities of torturing them while in custody. 

Witnesses reported seeing Somchai being forced into a car on the night he disappeared. Two sitting prime ministers have publicly called on law enforcement agencies to throw their full weight behind investigations into resolving the Somchai case. 

Because there is no crime of enforced disappearance in Thailand, the five police officers stood trial on counts of robbery and coercion. One police officer was convicted, but the others were found not guilty by the Bangkok Criminal Court in January 2006.

In 2011, the Appeals Court overturned the conviction against the police officer, found there was insufficient evidence to convict the remaining four accused and ruled that Somchai’s family could not stand as joint plaintiffs. In the latest ruling, the Supreme Court upheld these decisions. Under international law, family members of a victim of an enforced disappearance are also victims.

The High Commissioner said he was deeply disappointed that the judiciary had failed to take into account that the Civil Court had declared Somchai missing, and that important evidence was not taken into consideration in the case. 

“The judiciary’s role is not only to interpret laws and procedures but also to protect and defend their citizens’ rights. The Supreme Court of Thailand missed an opportunity to protect the rights of the victims to truth, justice and redress in cases of involuntary and enforced disappearance,” Zeid said. 

The UN High Commissioner also called on the Thai Government to introduce legislation making enforced or involuntary disappearance a criminal offence. “There is a lack of adequate legal and institutional framework for the victims and their families to seek justice in enforced disappearance cases in Thailand,” Zeid said. “I urge the Thai authorities to immediately ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.” *

Since 1980, the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances has recorded 82 cases of enforced disappearances in Thailand.

Zeid said that despite pledges by Thai authorities to address human rights violations, the issue of enforced disappearances in which state officials have been implicated remains a serious concern.

The High Commissioner also expressed his concern about another more recent case, involving Pholachi Rakchongcharoen, a Karen human rights activist also known as “Billy”, who disappeared in April 2014. “The Thai authorities have a responsibility to ensure victims get all the help they need in finding their loved ones, to ensure the fair prosecution and punishment of perpetrators, and to commit to stamping out the deplorable act of enforced disappearances,” Zeid said. 

*The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2006 and entered into force in 2010. So far, it has been ratified by 51 States. Thailand signed the Convention in January 2012 but has not yet ratified it.
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A comment: This UN text does not mention the recent disappearance in/from Thailand of the Hong Kong publisher Gui Minhai, the Swedish citizen who was disappeared from Thailand on October 17, 2015 and apparently taken to China, and of whose whereabouts there is still no word today. The latest development in the case is the disappearance on December 30, 2015, of a fifth bookseller and co-owner with Gui of his bookstore in Hong Kong. If Chinese police are secretly abducting people from Hong Kong, this obviously directly violates the Basic Law of Hong Kong as a special administrative area within China since 1997, so this has raised a protest storm in Hong Kong, which is still ongoing, with even the governor [hitherto widely seen as a puppet] stating publicly that such Chinese action would be unacceptable, and urging the disappeared man to come forward (a mysterious fax has emerged from him saying that he is OK, but not where he is, suggesting it was probably written under duress from his kidnappers inside China, as with the purported text messages and the calls from Gui Minhai that the Guardian traced to disconnected phone numbers in Croatia, Poland, and Togo).
In the course of this uproar, it has emerged that Sweden last month summoned the ambassador of Thailand in Stockholm to express concern over Gui Minhais disappearance in Thailand, and is working to get answers from the authorities in both Bangkok, and Beijing, about this Swedish citizen evidently abducted from Thailand. --As Ryan Dunch mentioned above, Britain has been asking about victim number 5, who is apparently a British citizen.
See: http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/politics/article/1898013/swedens-fore... also: http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/law-crime/article/1898106/first-and-f... and for more, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/03/hong-kong-politicians-call-... [with a photo of the apartment block in Pattaya, Thailand, from where Gui Minhai went missing in October]; also, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/05/smear-campaign-chinese-pres... and, http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/08/gui-minhai-the-strange-disa....
+ Also, today Sweden's former PM joined in the fray, on Twitter: See:
Sweden's Former PM: "Is China Starting To Kidnap Individuals In Hong Kong?" By Johan Nylander, FORBES-Asia, Jan 7, 2016 @ 11:01 AM. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jnylander/2016/01/07/swedens-former-pm-is-ch...

Humbly posted by, Magnus Fiskesjö, Cornell University, nf42@cornell.edu

Dear Editor,
With all respect, I do not think it's a good idea to circulate this information through H-Asia. The subscribers are initially looking forward to read ACADEMIC information from here, not POLITICAL. There are websites more appropriate and more influential to talk about this.

Let me respectfully disagree. I believe the list should be more than a bulletin board for publications, conferences, jobs, etc. While I would not advocate turning this list into a forum for political debates, I do believe that we are interested in all aspects of Asia and events which touch on matters "academic" (in the broadest sense) should be posted and discussed. Anything concerning the threat of censorship of book publishing is surely one of these events we should be made aware of. Anything related to universities, such as threats to curriculum or faculty, would fall into this category as well I would think.

A. Tom Grunfeld
SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor

Dear Feng He,

I agree with Professor Grunfeld. If the editors were turning H-Asia into a political soapbox, your concerns would be justified, but I have seen no sign that they are. They are sharing information of legitimate interest and concern to the scholarly community that studies mainland China and Hong Kong, and to request that they stop doing so because it is not purely academic in nature seems to me to be expecting an excessive level of self-censorship from H-Asia.

Not every scholar who works on China chooses a subject that has no relevance to contemporary politics. There are academics who study human rights issues, censorship, and rule of law in contemporary China (including Hong Kong), and I would hope that academics (as opposed to book publishers) with non-Chinese citizenship who write and publish on matters that are sensitive to the Chinese government do not have to start disappearing in Asia before such illegal, overreaching, and unjust attempts at censorship are worthy of attention from the academic community. Whether the academic community's response should go beyond raising awareness to voicing criticism and condemnation, is a question worth debating. But that question would not even get asked if we are only permitted to raise our concerns about these incidents in a non-academic setting.

Shao-yun Yang

Thanks. I do think free discussion is a sine qua non for academic research and scholarship.

I write with some additional information -- and a scholarly question.

Today NYT published an extensive interview on this case, with Bei Ling, the exiled Chinese poet and co-founder of the Independent Chinese PEN Center:

"Q. and A.: Bei Ling on the Missing Hong Kong Booksellers"

A longer version of this is available in Chinese: http://cn.nytimes.com/china/20160113/cc13beiling/

This reports on an independent investigation of the disappearance of Gui Minhai, the Hong Kong publisher who was evidently taken by force from Thailand to China by Chinese authorities, alongside the four colleagues nabbed separately, and together make up the core staff of the HK bookstore in question (now closed).

Just two days ago, nearly 3 months after he vanished from his Thailand apartment with his daily medicines lined up on the table, Gui Minhai has been been suddenly paraded on Chinese state TV -- in the manner so often used recent years in China for people who are first disappeared, and then emerge in performances on TV, tearfully confessing some sort of moral depravity, separated from the formal-legal context, and very possibly as instructed under extralegal duress.

Gui Minhai's brave daughter who is also a Swedish citizen and is a student in England, has expressed disbelief in the sudden TV appearance, regardless of the facts of the particular faults self-confessed in his case. See: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/18/daughter-of-hong-kong-books...

--On an academic level, I would be very interested if colleagues can recommend scholarship on this sort of forced confessional "parade", which evidently has roots both in Communist, especially Stalinist show-trial practices, but also in older pre-Communist Chinese authoritarian practices.

Again some media have taken this up, unavoidably in superficial manner, such as The Guardian on the pattern of forced confessionals: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/aug/11/televised-confessions-state..., and the Washington Post of how a very recent Taiwanese pop star's similar mea culpa turned political: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2016/01/16/watch-teena... (and, http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-35340530). (In Taiwan some comments apparently compared it to IS propaganda videos, because the confessions of culpability while in custody seem so obviously staged).

I wonder if there are suggestions for deeper, more probing scholarship on the nature and history of this kind of forced, publicly performed confessional.

Magnus Fiskesjö

Angela Gui, the daughter of the kidnapped Hong Kong publisher and bookseller Gui Minhai, testified May 24, 2016 in the US congress about her kidnapped father, reminding everyone that he is still illegally held without charges, having been illegally taken from Thailand to China last October and illegally paraded twice on Chinese state controlled TV, forced to incriminate himself.

Angela Gui laid out the facts of the case calmly and clearly. Very impressive. Talk about speaking truth to power (in a very British English. Like her father, she too is a citizen of Sweden, and is also a student at Warwick U in the UK).

Excerpts from her testimony can be seen on video at numerous sites, such as here:

‘Speaking up is the only option I have’: Daughter of ‘abducted’ bookseller testifies at US hearing.
By Kris Cheng. Hong Kong Free Press, 25 May 2016 08:57am.

In the testimony she urged all countries not to accept China kidnapping people outside of China, -- as duly noted in Hong Kong:

Don’t let China carry out illegal operations on foreign soil, daughter of missing Hong Kong bookseller urges US panel.
By Phila Siu. South China Morning Post, Posted May 25th 2016, 10:09am.

And here: Beijing should heed Angela Gui's call: Alan Leong. RTHK, 2016-05-25 HKT 11:34
Here one of many reports in Cantonese:
桂民海女兒在美指控 中國非法行動綁架其父. 2016 05月25日(三) 03:06am

Her testimony transcript (and some by others, on China quashing freedom of expression etc.) is slated to appear here, on the congress committee site:

See: Smith Chairs Hearing Investigating China’s Global Efforts to Silence Critics. Washington, May 24, 2016 | Jeff Sagnip ((202) 225-3765). Website of US Congressman Chris Smith (Republican). http://chrissmith.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=398993
+ the committee chair's statement:

Noted by: Magnus Fiskesjö, nf42@cornell.edu

Bombshell news today -- see links below. This is a stunning breakthrough in the case of the HK booksellers kidnapped by Chinese authorities: One of them is back in HK; was apparently ordered to retrieve a harddrive for his Chinese minders, but bolted and gathered courage to hold a press conference to tell of his abduction, his imprisonment, his forced confession, and the plight of his fellows. There is hardly any precedent for these courageous, firsthand revelations. Amazing and unexpected. Hard to say what the Chinese authorities can do now: Will they free the prisoners and put blame on some rogue local Ningbo policeman? Or, double down on the hard line, maybe launch a new smear campaign against the men, etc. We will have to see. In any case this is a stunning breakthrough, and very, very big news. -- Posted by Magnus Fiskesjö, nf42@cornell.edu

‘I want to tell the whole world – Hongkongers will not bow down before brute force’. Eight months after his disappearance, bookseller Lam Wing-kee returns to the city and reveals what really happened after he was intercepted in Shenzhen. South China Morning Post, Staff Reporter. PUBLISHED: Thursday, 16 June, 2016, 11:14pm. UPDATED: Thursday, 16 June, 2016, 11:14pm.

Q&A: Hong Kong bookseller speaks out. A tired but defiant Lam Wing-kee faced a barrage of questions from journalists at a packed press conference at the Legislative Council last night. Here are the highlights.
By Owen Fung. South China Morning Post. PUBLISHED: Thursday, 16 June, 2016, 10:27pm; UPDATED: Thursday, 16 June, 2016, 10:38pm.

Bookseller Lam Wing-kee details his detention on mainland, claims Lee Po told him he was “taken away from Hong Kong” -- The Causeway Bay Books associate who disappeared in Shenzhen last October also describes 24-hour watch and his staged televised confession. By Ng Kang-chung & Owen Fung. South China Morning Post. PUBLISHED: Thursday, 16 June, 2016, 6:40pm. UPDATED: Thursday, 16 June, 2016, 8:16pm. + Updated 9:27pm:

Hong Kong bookseller: China TV confession 'forced'. BBC, June 16, 2016. Updated.


Today it has been 365 days since Gui Minhai, Swedish citizen, scholar, and a Hong Kong-based bookseller and publisher, was abducted from his Thailand vacation apartment and disappeared, to China, where he later, like many others, was forced to deliver staged confessions on TV. It is not publicly known where he is held in China, and no trial has been staged for any of his forcibly confessed actions. Chinese authorities has placed intolerable restrictions on consular access by Swedish representatives.

Meanwhile, we have learned much about the details of the extralegal coercive methods used to extract these sorts of confessions, from the brave colleague of Gui's, Lam Wing-kee, who managed to return to Hong Kong and held press conferences and published his account of his own detention (see: https://www.hongkongfp.com/missing-booksellers/ ).

Today, on the anniversary of his disappearance by Chinese agents, and during the preceding days, there has been a flurry of reports and discussions in Sweden, in newspapers, TV and public radio.

Gui Minhai's brave daughter, Angela Gui, 22, has spoken publicly many times, and she just opened a new website dedicated to freeing her father: Free Gui Minhai, http://freeguiminhai.org

And a Facebook page as well:
Free Gui Minhai @ Facebook: This page is dedicated to raising awareness of the case of Gui Minhai, abducted and illegally detained scholar and publisher in China. https://www.facebook.com/freeguiminhai/

For a most recent update in English, see f.ex. Johan Nylander, a Swedish journalist writing in the Asia Times: "One year on abducted Hong Kong publisher still held in China: Gui Minhai remains in custody on the mainland without legal assistance or adequate consular access." Asia Times, Oct. 16, 2016. http://www.atimes.com/article/one-year-abducted-hong-kong-publisher-stil...

And, today the Hong Kong Free Press has 2 very good pieces demanding more action and protest:

The Independent Chinese PEN organization today published an appeal in Chinese, where they also republish covers from Ahai's (Gui Minhai's) samizdat poetry collections which we remember from China's hopeful 1980s:

(In 2009 the Independent Chinese PEN published a webpage with Ahai's (Gui Minhai's) poetry which is still up: http://blog.boxun.com/hero/ahwj/ )

Also today, his 22 year old daughter Angela Gui asks in the Washington Post:
"Who will remember my father, Gui Minhai?" By Angela Gui. Washington Post, October 17, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/global-opinions/wp/2016/10/17/who-wi...

Magnus Fiskesjö, nf42@cornell.edu
ps. I have compiled a list of all commentary I find, and am happy to send anyone an updated version of it. It's now 94 pages.

F y i. See below, on the detained Hong Kong publisher and bookseller Gui Minhai receiving the 2017 Jeri Laber Award to be issued in New York on April 25 at an American PEN gala. Gui Minhai, the Swedish writer, poet, publisher and bookseller, based in Hong Kong, has now been imprisoned in China for all of 536 days since he was first abducted from Thailand by Chinese agents, in October 2015. --Sincerely, Magnus Fiskesjö


Source: Association of American Publishers (March 30, 2017)

Detained Hong Kong Publisher and Bookseller Gui Minhai to Receive 2017 Jeri Laber Award


Washington, DC; March 30, 2017 –Gui Minhai, a Hong Kong based publisher and bookseller currently detained in mainland China, will receive the 2017 Jeri Laber award. The award, given annually by the Association of American Publishers International Freedom to Publish Committee (IFTPC), recognizes a book publisher outside of the US who has demonstrated courage and fortitude in the face of restrictions on freedom of expression. Presented at the PEN Literary Gala in New York on April 25, the award will be accepted by Gui Minhai’s daughter, Angela Gui, who has been actively campaigning for her father’s release.

A naturalized Swedish citizen, Gui established Mighty Current Media in 2012. This Hong Kong-based publisher and distributor is known for publishing works critical of the Chinese government, and its books, which are banned in China, are sold widely in Hong Kong. Mighty Current bought Causeway Bay Bookstore in 2014.

Gui is one of five men linked to Might Current Media detained by Chinese authorities. He was last seen on October 17, 2015, when he left his holiday apartment in Thailand. Gui is the only one of the original five men who remains detained in mainland China and according to his daughter he is being held without legal assistance or consular access. In January 2016, Chinese authorities admitted to having detained Gui.

“This is a truly shocking case of how far a government will go to quash free expression—in this instance, not only illegally detaining and severely interrogating Gui, but seizing him when he was abroad in another sovereign country,” said Geoff Shandler, Vice President and Editorial Director, Custom House/William Morrow, and Chairman of the IFTPC. “China’s future as a global superpower should rest not just on its economic might and creative genius but its commitment to freedom of expression. We hope this award helps the government realize this.”

About the Jeri Laber Award

The Jeri Laber International Freedom to Publish Award recognizes a book publisher outside the United States who has demonstrated courage in the face of restrictions on freedom of expression. The award is named in honor of Jeri Laber, one of the founding members of the IFTPC and the committee’s professional adviser for more than thirty years. She was a founder of Helsinki Watch (which ultimately became Human Rights Watch), and was its executive director from 1979 to 1995. She is also the author of a memoir, The Courage of Strangers: Coming of Age with the Human Rights Movement.

About the Association of American Publishers

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) represents nearly four hundred member organizations including major commercial, digital learning, education and professional publishers alongside independents, non-profits, university presses and scholarly societies. We represent the publishing industry’s priorities including copyright and related intellectual property rights, piracy and enforcement strategies, digital growth and related business models, funding for education and libraries, fair tax and trade policies, and freedom of expression and literacy debates.

Media Contact
Marisa Bluestone
Communications Director


Update: questions abound today, about the "release," or is it perhaps the re-"disappearance," of Gui Minhai

The Swedish Foreign Ministry today announced that (unspecified) Chinese authorities have informed them that Gui Minhai, the Swedish publisher based in Hong Kong who was kidnapped from Thailand in October 2015, and who has just passed two (2) years in Chinese detention, has been "freed."

At the same time, the Swedish ministry took care to specify that they have not been able to get answers to their follow-up questions: presumably, where is he, may we speak to him. It seems they have been asking these follow-up questions for a protracted time.

This is big news, in Sweden as elsewhere, but much caution is warranted.

Some insufficiently cautious Swedish media and many other international media jumped the gun and erroneously said he was released, which is clearly not correct, since his whereabouts remain unclear. He is out of reach of his family a week after his supposed release. See his daughter's statement:

Many now fear that this "release" of Gui Minhai is an orchestrated move to disappear him again, and keep him in detention, akin to the "release" of the Chinese lawyer Xie Yang who was supposedly "freed," but not even his wife could see him, in May 2017 (http://www.rfa.org/english/women/lawyer-spouse-05102017150051.html), or the case of the legal assistant Ms Zhao Wei who was disappeared, held, and then said to be "free" while her family could still not reach her. And, infamously, the South China Morning Post in HK, recently bought by a Chinese billionaire, published an interview with Zhao Wei after she had been declared "released" but her family and friends were unable to reach her. The SCMP was closely questioned by many other media asking how the SCMP did this interview with an unfree person. The "interview" had, of course, been planted by the regime, but the SCMP could not admit this, and was reduced to hiding behind a professional-style facade, "we can't reveal our sources" (see: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jul/25/south-china-morning-post-c...). --These "releases" amount to distracting manouevers.

If the Chinese authorities do not grant the Swedish publisher freedom, including especially the freedom to leave China and go back to Sweden or Hong Kong or wherever, he clearly is not free. In my view, it is not acceptable that Chinese authorities abduct people from abroad and then detain and intimidate them for years, including by putting them on state TV as a demeaning, extra-legal spectacle, which is what happened to, in this case, a fellow citizen of Sweden. And if we accept it, can happen to anyone. 

For today's news in English, see f ex: 
(Reuters is correct in its headline to cautiously limit the news to saying "China tells Sweden it has freed Swedish bookseller" Gui Minhai. -- it failed to mention the follow-up concerns. )
(The SCMP trying hard to be fair and square!). 

--Magnus Fiskesjö, nf42@cornell.edu

Gui Minhai, Swedish and EU citizen and longtime Hong Kong publisher, has been suddenly detained again, Saturday Jan. 21, while trying to go to a doctor's appointment at our country's embassy in Beijing AND WHILE accompanied by two Swedish diplomats. Ten men in civilian clothes, claiming to be policemen, hauled him off in front of the diplomats. Gui Minhai is my fellow citizen compatriot and an old friend, as well. 

His flourishing bookstore was destroyed after he was abducted from Thailand to China in October 2015, and then detained in China extra-legally and forced to make fake statements on TV, -- until recently, when the Chinese authorities told our government he was now "released" (October 2017), -- but then seemed to keep him in house arrest -- until this weekend, when they chose to create this incident.  

As a Swedish China scholar, I wonder, --Why is the Chinese regime behaving like this? We know of course that they bully their own citizens, Chinese people, as when they send out thugs to drag people off to black prisons and illegal house-arrest, torture, and so on, and they "disappear" people outside even Chinese law. 

But are they here also trying to humiliate our country on purpose -- not sure for what purpose? Is it hubris -- delighting in showing they can bully and frighten everyone, that they can grab anyone, anytime, no matter their citizenship, no matter what? -- or, is it perhaps that the different arms of the Chinese government have no clue what the other arms are up to? Could be. Or, is there some other mysterious explanation?  

In any event, Gui is now ill, with a new, apparently serious medical affliction he has contracted while in his 2+ year Chinese custody. People in Sweden, and in our Union, are awaiting his return. Our foreign minister, Margot Wallström, has instructed the Chinese ambassador to come up to her ministry and explain, and we are eagerly awaiting that explanation. And more news. 

--Among the latest news on all this and more, see: 

HK bookseller Gui Minhai snatched once again. RTHK, 2018-01-22 HKT 19:20. http://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1376595-20180122.htm

After release, Swede Gui Minhai detained again by China. Radio Sweden. Published kl 12.38, 22 jan 2018. (3:49 min broadcast) http://sverigesradio.se/sida/artikel.aspx?programid=2054&artikel=6867297

Swedish bookseller 'snatched by Chinese agents from train’. Daughter says Gui Minhai was taken off train as he travelled to Beijing with group of diplomats. By Tom Phillips in Beijing. The Guardian, Mon 22 Jan 2018 07.00 EST. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jan/22/swedish-bookseller-allegedly-snatched-by-chinese-agents-from-train-gui-minhai

Hong Kong bookseller detained again by Chinese authorities. By Kelvin Chan. Washington Post/AP • Foreign • Jan 22, 2018. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/hong-kong-bookseller-detained-again-by-chinese-authorities/2018/01/22/9fa0c4f6-ff89-11e7-86b9-8908743c79dd_story.html

Chinese Police Seize Publisher From Train in Front of Diplomats. By CHRIS BUCKLEY. New York Times, JAN. 22, 2018.https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/22/world/asia/china-police-bookseller-train-gui-minhai.html

Freedom To Publish: The Prix Voltaire 2018 Shortlist Honors Figures from Asia, Europe, and Africa. By Porter Anderson. January 12, 2018. https://publishingperspectives.com/2018/01/prix-voltaire-2018-shortlist-international-publishers-association/

Missing Hong Kong bookseller shortlisted for the Prix Voltaire. The Bookseller, Published January 11, 2018. By Katherine Cowdrey. https://www.thebookseller.com/news/iranian-e-publisher-and-missing-hk-bookseller-shortlisted-2018-ipa-prix-voltaire-707491

Free speech moves: A persecuted bookseller vows to reopen in Taiwan. By Jane Rickards, TAIPEI, freelance correspondent. The Economist. http://www.theworldin.com/article/14434/edition2018free-speech-moves

--Also, I have a compilation of all the news about Gui Minhai in multiple languages, including Chinese, which I will be glad to send anyone interested.

 Magnus Fiskesjö, nf42@cornell.edu

Update 7 February 2018, on Gui Minhai, the HK-based published and writer kidnapped from Thailand in October 2015, then detained in China and forced (twice, in 2016) to make false confessions on Chinese state TV, and detained until October 2017 when the Chinese authorities said he was free. He is a Swedish citizen only, and two weeks ago, my country's embassy had arranged for him to travel to our embassy and see a doctor for the grave signs of illness that he has developed while in Chinese detention. 

On the train there, in the presence of the two Swedish diplomats accompanying him on the trip, Gui was suddenly seized and hauled off by ten plainclothes men. It took China two weeks to acknowledge it was indeed China's government (and not some random rogue gang) that had seized him again. When, finally, China's government acknowledged thru their own foreign ministry that it did this, they also issued threats against our country, in the manner typical of previous times China has intimidated other countries (such as it recently did to Norway). Their own foreign ministry had evidently been kept in the dark themselves, -- two weeks ago, when he was grabbed from the train, the FM could offer no replies to the many questions from foreign correspondents in Beijing – consequently they deleted all references to those many questions from their official transcripts of press briefings -- and they tried to say it was not their department.  

Now, both Sweden as well as the ambassadors to China of the European Union and Germany have issued sharp statements demanding Gui's release, and deploring the Chinese actions, especially because of the grave concern these actions inevitably prompt as regards the safety, freedom and lawful treatment of not just Swedish citizens, but all EU citizens (and all others, indeed). See:  






(this article in Germany's biggest paper includes an interview with myself)

Also, meanwhile, Gui Minhai was awarded the Voltaire Prize of the International Publishing Association,




--in great sadness and with the greatest concern for Gui Minhai in the face of torture, imprisonment, and disease.

On a personal note, it's just been 40 years since I first started traveling from Sweden to China, and to study things Chinese. Today, I find it pretty awful to see China slide back into the worst manners of dictatorship.

Magnus Fiskesjö


As if things could not get worse, now this horror:


The Chinese government today, in Goebbelsian-Stalinist fashion, forced Gui Minhai to make another coerced, fake confession, parroting his tormenter's script, for the third time (he was made to do so twice in 2016). He must have been coerced, intimidated and probably tortured again, to do this again: 





This is very, very awful news. It is of course wholly in line with Chinese government doubling down on its brutal treatment of Gui Minhai, as well as on its attempted intimidation of Sweden, demanding our country's submission and obedience, much like they did with Norway only recently.  


Also, important blogpost today -- before the latest horror news -- from Ulf Kristersson, the Swedish conservative party leader who may become Prime Minister this Fall [https://moderaterna.se/ulf-kristersson-om-den-bortforde-svenske-medborgaren-gui-minhai].


--He fully supports our Foreign minister Margot Wallström [who is of the main government party, the Social Democrats] and deplores the actions of, and the tone of the statements of Chinese government, "not what friendly countries would do." He is thankful for European support.


This is a very important statement of unity that I think will be reinforced today. --It is very likely that at this time, the Chinese diplomats have been ordered to pursue their own "silent diplomacy" behind the scenes, to try to find Swedish "friends" inside and outside government, people who will accept bowing down to China; those beholden to China, through money and investments and through fake "friendship."


I, for one, hope our government and our Union will stand firm against the bullying, and stand for our fundamental values of freedom and justice and human rights. For their sake, I feel it is now more important than ever to denounce China's torturing and coercion of Gui Minhai -- writer, poet, publisher, scholar, friend, fellow citizen, and fellow human being.  


Magnus Fiskesjö


Member publication: Confessions Made in China

Dear all,

This is my new article on how media even outside China will sometimes swallow, and help disseminate (sometimes unwittingly, sometimes knowingly as with South China Morning Post), the worst kind of Chinese state propaganda: the TV confessions spectacles, coerced and produced under torture, including in Gui Minhai's case: 

Fiskesjö, Magnus. "Confessions Made in China." Made in China 3.1 (January-March 2018), p. 18-22; 108-109 (list of references). http://www.chinoiresie.info/made-in-china-quarterly/


Gui Minhai, the Swedish citizen, publisher and poet kidnapped from Thailand and detained by China since October 2015, has now been held for more than 1000 days. 

Recent developments are a mix of good news, and disheartening news: 

The good news is that many people in Sweden and around the world now seem to have understood that the forced confessions we've seen are cruel, fake, spectacles; that Chinese authorities in fact are targeting Gui because of his publishing and his bookstore (from which four colleagues were also kidnapped in 2015 and also forced to make extralegal "confessions" of wrongdoing); and that the fake confessions represent a government-orchestrated tactic of fake smokescreens, meant to distract and muddle the picture (similar to how state authorities have often treated their own citizens, in China, who may themselves be tortured, or their families may be threatened, if they try to refuse to do the fake show demanded of them: http://news.rthk.hk/rthk/en/component/k2/1405203-20180704.htm).   

The Chinese regime continues to hold Gui Minhai, and also, to move the goalposts with new accusations. Moreover, alarmingly, this June and July the Chinese embassy in Stockholm started a campaign contacting private Swedish citizens who've spoken up for Gui, and try to stop them from doing so. It tries to malign Gui for new, purported wrongdoings in Sweden that it claims to have dug up from many years ago. Astonishingly, it also threatened Sweden the country with punishment, if we keep talking about human rights in this case. And, it is attacking Swedish media: its website now features copies of a series of menacing "corrections" mailed to Swedish mass media writing about the case -- even daring to give lessons in press ethics to Sweden's most venerable news agency, the TT. (Especially since China is at the bottom of the RSF world index of press freedom, barely above North Korea, this makes the embassy folks look like Stalinist party-hacks). On these issues, in English see: https://www.mhpbooks.com/chinas-embassy-in-stockholm-has-been-harrassing-those-who-speak-in-defense-of-gui-minhai-the-swedish-publisher-illegally-detained-in-china/

For many, the embassy campaign confirms the worst suspicions about China today. In Sweden, it has prompted demands for corrective measures against the embassy -- which may itself be breaking the law (https://www.svd.se/wallstrom-bor-varna-kinas-ambassador). So far, our foreign ministry has publicly revealed it "repeatedly" reminded the Chinese embassy that in Sweden, the constitution guarantees press freedom. 
On July 13, to mark the 1000 days of unjust Chinese custody of our citizen, and repeat the call for his freedom, a rally was held outside the Chinese embassy in Stockholm, sponsored by Sweden's Writers' Association as well as by Sweden's Publishers' Association. I was one of seven speakers.  

Earlier, on June 6, Sweden's national day, 45 public figures from publishing, media, politics and culture, including myself, co-signed an appeal for the freedom of Gui Minhai that appeared in about forty media outlets, including the website of our national TV (for an English translation see: https://twitter.com/KongTsungGan/status/1004179576988131328; for my Chinese translation of the appeal, see: https://twitter.com/Magnus_Fiskesjo/status/1004352122924740608).  In the appeal we said that "fundamental principles of law and human rights do not make a halt at the borders of any country, China or otherwise."

Before this -- and perhaps even more significant -- in May, the Swedish Parliament's all-party Foreign affairs committee also demanded the release of Gui, and asked our government to keep up the work on this case. I made a Chinese translation of the relevant passage (https://twitter.com/Magnus_Fiskesjo/status/1004358932364701696), as well as an English translation (https://twitter.com/Magnus_Fiskesjo/status/1004360317143535616). Also in May, in Parliament, Sweden's foreign minister reiterated our government's demand for Gui's release. 

In addition, the European Union has formally repeated its demand for the freedom of its citizen (Gui is a Swedish citizen and therefore a Union citizen too; he is not a Chinese citizen). The EU last took up the case at the EU-China human rights dialogue in Beijing in early July. 

So far, the only sign of accomodation from China is that the same embassy in Stockholm now has said it may "in principle" agree to a consular visit -- which China is, of course, already obligated by international law to accept and arrange, but which they have been continuously delaying and blocking. 

It is now already more than six months since the Chinese authorities in China brutally and with no prior notice re-arrested Gui while he was traveling to such a visit, with Swedish diplomats, who had arranged for him to see a specially flown-in Swedish doctor. This was after Chinese authorities told Sweden's foreign ministry that Gui was "free". (Naturally there is suspicion that the Chinese foreign ministry and its embassies actually may have no clue what is going on. Still, we hope they will indeed comply with such visits, as we hope they will release out citizen and let him go -- now).  

Finally, several days ago, 2 new poems by Gui Minhai were published in the Washington Post ("Why is China afraid of this man?" https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/china-is-trying-to-muzzle-gui-minhai-these-poems-tell-his-story/2018/07/29/c75b18dc-91bc-11e8-b769-e3fff17f0689_story.html). 

Magnus Fiskesjö, nf42@cornell.edu