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Defy Beijing from Hong Kong → get stapled in the leg? – China’s latest political and current affairs news

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summary of the top news in Chinese politics and current affairs for August 11, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.
1 week ago
Lucas Niewenhuis

The Guardian reports that Howard Lam 林子健, a pro-democracy activist in Hong Kong, claims he was “abducted, blindfolded and beaten by mainland Chinese agents” — an interrogation that included them driving dozens of staples into his thighs — for attempting to send a message of support to Liu Xia 刘霞, the widow of the late Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo 刘晓波.

Wait, what?

  • In early July, Lam had asked soccer star Lionel Messi to send over a signed photograph to cheer up the ailing Liu Xiaobo, an avid fan. He received the photo, though not before Liu died on July 13, the New York Times says (paywall).
  • He then planned to send the photo to Liu’s widow, Liu Xia, but says that last week he received a threatening phone call from a mainland number — the other side spoke in Mandarin, the national language of China that is much less common in Cantonese-dominated Hong Kong. He says he was then confronted and abducted on the street and tortured overnight — again, by Mandarin-speaking strangers.
  • The bizarre episode came to light at a press conference, where Lam told his story and displayed his staple wounds — he had deferred medical treatment to speak to the press.

The Hong Kong police are now conducting an investigation, though Lam says he does not trust the police, according to the South China Morning Post. As the Times notes (paywall), the “purported assault is the latest in a series of episodes that have left many in Hong Kong worried about China’s authoritarian influence.” A few of those episodes have been noted by the Times: the disappearance of five booksellers in 2015, the abduction of still-missing Chinese tycoon Xiao Jiahua 肖建华 in February this year, and the removal (paywall) of “six pro-democracy lawmakers over issues with their oaths of office, depriving their allies of enough votes to maintain a veto against the Legislative Council’s pro-Beijing camp.”


By Lucas Niewenhuis
Lucas Niewenhuis is an associate editor at SupChina who helps curate daily news and produce the company's newsletter, app, and website content. Previously, Lucas researched China-Africa relations at the Social Science Research Council and interned at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He has studied Chinese language and culture in Shanghai and Beijing, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.
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