LAUREN CHEN WRITES – Mainland authorities continue to usurp Hong Kong press freedom by silencing dissenting voices. Publisher Yao Wentian was arrested on what appear to be bogus charges of smuggling prohibited items, and has been detained for almost three months.
Wentian is head of Morning Bell Press, a Hong Kong based publishing company. His disappearance happened just before he planned to release the book: “Godfather of China Xi Jinping,” by Yu Jie. The book is a critical dissection of China’s current leadership. Jie told The China Post, “I think his work on my Xi Jinping book is the main reason why he’s been detained.”
The arrest is most likely related to The Chinese Communist Party’s nationwide issuing of a “special action” to ban “Hong Kong’s politically harmful publications.” A publishing source told South China Morning Post that a multitude of corruption cases reported in the media are making authorities nervous. Beijing has tightened its grip on Hong Kong’s press freedom by increasing book censorship. Wentian’s arrest serves as a example of the dire consequences of speaking freely in mainland China.
Publisher of Hong Kong’s New Century Press, Bao Pu, says the arrest is nothing “but the latest move in the Communist Party’s year-long offensive against publications it objects to, and a media it sees as an enemy.” Pu believes there is nothing Hong Kong’s media can do to stop the assault on its publications, and it will only stop when the Chinese Communist Party changes its attitudes towards press freedom.
Though the crackdown may have certainly instilled fear in Hong Kong’s press, instances of political persecution are gaining concern worldwide. Despite increasing censorship, bookstores in Hong Kong still specialize in banned works, and citizens are protesting the decline in press freedom. The government’s attempt to silence Hong Kong will not be a battle won easily.