China-persecuted Hong Kong bookseller shares his story with Taiwan Hakkas

Hakka Public Communication Foundation (HPCF) General Manager Hsu Chih-chun (徐智俊) and Hakka Radio show host Sung Ching-ling (宋菁玲) interviewed Lam Wing-kee (林榮基), the founder of Causeway Bay Books, at his re-opened bookstore in Taipei on June 11.

Forced to shut down his bookstore last year in Hong Kong for selling books banned by the Chinese government, Lam reopened his business in Taiwan almost two months ago.

In the live interview, Lam responded to questions asked by the audience. He said that if there is an opportunity, he will consider opening a new branch store in Kaohsiung or in a Hakka settlement. Lam noted that books can bring comfort and peace to people who are distressed and anxious, adding that a bookstore is an important place that improves the cultural environment in a society.

Lam recalled that he and four other bookstore staff members were abducted and imprisoned for 8 months by the Chinese government five years ago just because they sold politically sensitive books banned by the communist authorities. The oppression from the authoritarian regime led to the closure of the independent bookstore, Lam added.

He said that Hong Kong people have been deprived of their freedom and rights since the Chinese government betrayed the principle of “one country, two systems,” under which Hong Kong had its own governmental system independent from that of mainland China. Lam stated that Hong Kong’s anti-extradition law movement last year exposed the totalitarian nature of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

To continue to make the voice of Hong Kongers heard and convey the preciousness of democracy, Lam decided to restart his bookstore in Taiwan. He thanked Taiwanese publishers for helping to provide publications that their counterparts in China never would dare to print.

Lam said that the current situation of Hong Kong is similar to that of Taiwan when universal suffrage was not implemented on the island during the period of martial law (1947-1986), adding that Hong Kong is facing the CCP’s arbitrary power which pervades everywhere. Taking himself as an example, Lam was splashed with red paint by two men three days before the reopening of the bookstore in Taipei.

The attack, Lam pointed out, revealed that the influence of pro-China groups still exists in Taiwanese society. Regarding the increased political polarization in the country, the bookstore owner suggested that Taiwan should adequately resolve the ideological conflicts to safeguard its hard-earned freedom and democracy.

During the interview, members of Hakka audience gave their best wishes to Lam, hoping that both his book store and he himself will do well in Taiwan.