Three of America’s most important publishing associations released a statement last week commending Hong Kong bookseller Lam Wing-kee for refusing to provide the names of customers who bought books that criticized Chinese officials.
The statement, signed by the American Booksellers Association, the Association of American Publishers, and the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, also praised Lam for revealing details of his illegal imprisonment by Chinese authorities after he and colleagues were detained following a business trip from Hong Kong to mainland China.
During a press conference last Thursday, Lam said he was shown records of the customers of the Causeway Bay Bookstore and asked to identify those who had purchased books published by Mighty Current, which are often critical of the Chinese government. “I didn’t dare tell them about the readers because I was worried that those readers would be implicated, and then they would think that Hong Kongers – or I – had betrayed them,” Lam said during the conference.
“We join [Lam] in condemning the Chinese government for its illegal arrest and detention of people engaged in the publication and sale of books,” the statement read. “In addition, we demand the speedy release of Gui Minhai, the last Mighty Current employee in custody, and call on Hong Kong authorities to protect the Hong Kong booksellers from further retribution by the Chinese government."
Following Lam’s press conference, several of his colleagues were quoted in different Chinese publications disputing his account of what happened when the five Hong Kong booksellers were held in China.