Bookseller Lam Wing-kee is opening a shop in Taiwan after fleeing Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong bookstore specialised in books critical of China and its leaders but, as Lam told journalists, China’s leaders will not allow a bookstore selling texts that “make them uncomfortable or impact on their political power”.
Lam thanked his supporters in Taiwan and Hong Kong for his fresh start, and said his move made China’s leaders “less than happy”.
To help fund his move, Lam raised almost $200,000 through online fundraising.
Lam was part-owner of the Hong Kong store, and one of five shareholders and staff at the Causeway Bay book shop. They sold books and magazines said to contain secrets about the private lives of Chinese leaders and the scandals surrounding them that they wanted to keep secret.
He was abducted and put into Chinese custody in 2015 but was released on bail and allowed to return to Hong Kong in mid 2016 in order to obtain information about his customers stored on a computer database.
Lam refused to return to China, and publicly accused officials of kidnapping, and interrogation under duress. He was soon forced to close the shop.
Lam moved to Taiwan from Hong Kong in 2019 over fears of proposed legislation that would allow extradition to China. The legislation was withdrawn eventually after months of violent protests after which Hong Kong police arrested 15 prominent lawyers and others involved in the protests.
Beijing still claims Taiwan as its own territory, but the self-governing island has become a safe haven for critics of the Chinese leaders.
Two Taiwanese high school students said they saw its reopening as hopeful.
“I think that this bookstore coming to Taiwan makes us Taiwanese extremely proud. We can give Hong Kong a helping hand,” one student said. “After all, our own freedoms were not easily won.”