Lam Wing-kei, one of the booksellers abducted by China, is in Taiwan

Lam, one of five booksellers kidnapped in 2016, has fled to Taiwan after breaking the mainland’s gag order. In Hong Kong, publishing material critical of Beijing is no longer possible. He warns Taiwan that "reunification" means an ever-increasing control by the ruling Chinese Communist Party over every aspect of its citizens' lives. His two colleagues Lee Bo and Gui Minhai are still held by Chinese authorities.

Taipei (AsiaNews/RFA) – Lam Wing-kei, one of five Hong Kong booksellers detained in 2016 by Chinese authorities for selling "banned" political books to customers across the internal border in mainland China, says he will open a new bookstore on the democratic island of Taiwan later this year in a bid to raise awareness that “there is a shared issue that is common both to Hong Kong and Taiwan: forcible control by mainland China”.

After his release in June 2016, Lam, who has repeatedly spoken out in defiance of gag orders imposed by Chinese police, fled to Taiwan after giving a large number of media interviews, amid concerns that he may be detained again or kidnapped. Taiwanese authorities were more than happy to welcome him.

"I hadn't expected there to be so many people here in Taiwan who are subject to the mainland's influence, because maybe they have various transactions going on there," Lam said. "But I also understand it."

Now he hopes to open a new Causeway Bay Books store in September in Taipei’s old-town district of Ximending. In Taiwan, the bookseller has found several people ready to support his mission, but he is still looking for funds to launch his new venture

The bookseller slams Beijing's grip on Hong Kong, where it is no longer possible to publish freely. He has also sought to warn the Taiwanese that what Beijing really means when it offers Taiwan "reunification" along the same lines as Hong Kong's "one country, two systems" arrangement is an ever-increasing control by the ruling Chinese Communist Party over every aspect of its citizens' lives.

“If mainland China is a dictatorship, then of course we want to oppose it," Lam said. "We should do this under the banner of universal values [of democracy and human rights] and oppose anything that contravenes those values."

"Right now, China is anything but open, and a lot of people are saying that it is reversing recent progress," he said.

In fact, two of his colleagues at the now closed Causeway Bay Books store in Hong Kong, Lee Bo and Gui Minhai, are still in the custody of Chinese authorities.

Lee Bo was taken from his office in Hong Kong, whilst Gui Minhai was detained first in Thailand and then again in China, on a train bound for Beijing, accompanied by two Swedish diplomats.

In Europe, some Members of the European Parliament reacted to Gui Minhai’s case and demanded his immediate release.