(P1) In a FRENETIC commercial district of Hong Kong, SANDWICHED BETWEEN shops selling vitamins and clothing to tourists, the Causeway Bay Bookstore TOUTS itself as the authority on Chinese politics.

(P2) The tiny shop SPECIALIZES in selling GOSSIPY paperbacks that are highly critical of China’s leadership. They are particularly popular with MAINLAND Chinese visitors who cannot buy the BANNED books at home.

(P3) But two weeks ago, four men who work for the bookstore and its AFFILIATED publishing house went missing. Their COLLEAGUES believe they have been DETAINED by Chinese officials because of their work.

(P4) One of their colleagues, Mr Lee, told BBC News: “I suspect all of them were detained. Four people went missing at the same time.”

(P5) Among them is Gui Minhai, a China-born Swedish national who is the owner of Mighty Current, the publishing house that owns the bookstore.

(P6) According to Mr Lee, who declines to give his full name for fear of REPRISALS by Chinese officials, the publisher last communicated with colleagues by email on 15 October from the city of Pattaya in Thailand, where he owns a holiday home.

(P7) Mr Gui had written to tell printers to prepare for a new book and that he would send the material SHORTLY. He has not been seen since.

(P8) The others are Lui Bo, general manager of Mighty Current, and Cheung Jiping, the business manager of the publishing house. Both have wives who live in Shenzhen, and were last seen there.

(P9) The fourth missing man is Lam Wingkei, manager of the bookstore, who was last seen in Hong Kong.

(P10) “I am quite certain that the main target was Mr Gui. They wanted to prevent him from publishing that book,” said Mr Lee, who was not PRIVY TO what the publisher had been writing about.

(P11) “I think the others were taken because they knew the contents of the book.”

(P12) Mr Lee said Mr Lam’s wife had filed a MISSING PERSONS report with the Hong Kong police, who have confirmed the case to the BBC.

(P13) Calls to China’s Foreign Ministry office in Hong Kong have gone unanswered.

(P14) Attempts to reach the relatives of the four men have been unsuccessful.

(P15) Sources close to the families fear international attention may hurt more than help.

(P16) HUMAN RIGHTS groups have expressed concern about the disappearances.

(P17) “We think that if the information is true, it is a deeply TROUBLING case and it will have serious IMPLICATIONS about the DETERIORATION of freedom of expression in Hong Kong,” said AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL‘s Patrick Poon.

(P18) FREEDOM OF THE PRESS is GUARANTEED in Hong Kong. But many in the publishing business say the Chinese government has begun to EXERT its influence in the industry.

(P19) Last year, Hong Kong publisher Yiu Mantin wwas SENTENCED to ten years in prison in China on SMUGGLING charges.

(P20) His family believes the charges were TRUMPED UP, in RETALIATION for publishing a book highly critical of President Xi Jinping.

(P21) And last week, two Hong Kong journalists were on trial for selling political magazines in Shenzhen.

(P22) The Chinese government has so far SHED NO LIGHT ON the WHEREABOUTS of the missing men. But their disappearance has already sent JITTERS through Hong Kong’s publishing industry.

WORDS: 532

SOURCE: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-34782266


If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.

  1. Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
  2. Do you think the publishing industry is healthy in your country?
  3. Have issues involving freedom of the press ever COME UP in your country?
  4. Since Mr. Gui is a Swedish citizen, what do you think the Swedish government should do in this case?
  5. Do you think that these four men will be seen again, or might their disappearance remain a mystery?


What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.

  • Sandwiched between
  • Privy to
  • Missing person
  • Human rights
  • Freedom of the press
  • Trumped up
  • Shed light on
  • Come up

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