LONDON (Reuters) - Britain remains deeply concerned about a British publisher of books critical of China’s leaders who went missing in Hong Kong and is pressing for information about his welfare, a spokesman for the Foreign Office said on Tuesday.
Hong Kong police confirmed late on Monday that they had been advised by authorities in China’s southern Guangdong province that British passport holder Lee Bo was in the mainland.
“We remain deeply concerned about a British citizen missing from Hong Kong with four colleagues and have raised this at the highest levels,” a spokesman for the Foreign Office said when asked about the case.
“It has now been confirmed by Chinese authorities that he is in mainland China and we are continuing to press for further information about his welfare and location. We stand ready to provide consular assistance,” the spokesman said.
The disappearances, and China’s silence, have stoked fears of mainland Chinese authorities using shadowy tactics that erode the “one-country, two-systems” formula under which Hong Kong has been governed since its 1997 return from Britain to China.
Hammond said in China earlier this month that it would not be acceptable for someone to be spirited out of Hong Kong in order to face charges in a different jurisdiction.
Such an action, he added, would be an “egregious breach” of the one-country, two-systems policy, Hong Kong’s Basic Law, or mini-constitution, and the 1984 Sino-British Joint Declaration, which provided for the handover of power.
“It’s an essential part of the settlement in Hong Kong that it has its own judicial system and it is solely responsible for trying offences that occur in Hong Kong,” Hammond said.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said at the time that China opposed any foreign country interfering with China’s domestic politics or with Hong Kong affairs.
Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Stephen Addison