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HK dissident vows to continue advocacy despite colleague's conviction
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Photo courtesy of CNA

Taipei, Feb. 26 (CNA) Hong Kong dissident and bookstore owner Lam Wing-kee on Tuesday lamented the heavy sentence handed down by a Chinese court on one of his business partners and vowed to continue to speak out against Beijing's persecution.

Gui Minhai, one of the five shareholders of Causeway Bay Books in Hong Kong, was recently sentenced to 10 years in prison by China's Ningbo Intermediate People's Court on charges of spying, according to a statement posted Feb. 24 on the court's website.

The court statement also said that Gui, a naturalized Swedish citizen, had applied in 2018 for restoration of his Chinese citizenship.

In a phone interview Tuesday, Lam told CNA that he was sad to learn of the sentence imposed on Gui.

"He was held for almost two years after his disappearance in Thailand, Lam said. "Shortly after his release, he was again apprehended. Considering that, what intelligence could he obtain and provide to foreign countries?"

Lam also said he suspected that China had forced Gui to seek restoration of his Chinese citizenship, which was a human rights violation.

While Gui's heavy prison sentence might scare dissidents in China, it will only heighten sentiments in Hong Kong and Taiwan against Communist China, Lam said.

"The Causeway Bay Books controversy will not end with Gui's conviction," Lam said, vowing to continue to make his voice heard.

Between October and December 2015, Lam, Gui and three other shareholders in Causeway Bay Books disappeared involuntarily one after another, after Chinese authorities said the bookstore had been selling "banned books."

Gui was abducted by a man at an apartment in Pattaya, Thailand, on Oct. 17, 2015, according to news reports at the time. About three months later, he appeared on TV in China, admitting that he was culpable in a hit-and-run accident that had left a female university student dead in Ningbo in 2003.

The other four shareholders were released and allowed to return to Hong Kong after they testified that Gui had been running the bookstore illegally.

In October 2017, Sweden's ministry of foreign affairs confirmed the release of Gui, who had written several books about politics in China. However, on Jan. 20, 2018, Chinese law enforcement officers arrested Gui again on a train, which was also carrying two Swedish diplomats, and accused him of providing classified information to foreign officials.

Lam, meanwhile, fled to Taiwan in April 2019 and has since extended his Taiwan visa twice. He is currently applying for business permits to reopen his bookstore in Taiwan, which would allow him to obtain a work permit.

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