Hong Kong protesters to target annual book fair and Beijing-owned Sino United Publishing

Su Xinqi

Opponents of the now-suspended extradition bill are planning to expand their protests to Hong Kong’s hugely popular annual book fair by targeting booths run by a mainland China state-owned publishing conglomerate.

The fair opens on Wednesday and the city’s embattled leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has decided to skip it for the first time in three years.

The Chief Executive’s Office did not provide a specific reason for turning down the invitation, according to event organiser the Trade Development Council.

The idea of staging protests at booths run by outlets under Sino United Publishing (SUP) was floated on LIHKG – an online forum that has effectively been a virtual command centre of the anti-bill movement – on Monday morning, securing more than 2,200 endorsements from users in a day.

SUP, which is state-owned and controlled by Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong, is the largest publishing group in the city, dominating as much as 90 per cent of the book retail business through its units Joint Publishing, Chung Hwa Book and Commercial Press.

A Sino United Publishing booth in 2015. Protest leaders have floated the idea of protesting against the state-run publisher at this year’s event. Photo: Alamy

“When we oppose the bill that could have allowed extradition to mainland China, let’s not forget our publishing industry which was surrendered to the mainland earlier,” the forum post read.

Other action proposed by users included creating a Lennon Wall – where people could leave messages – at the book fair, effectively besieging booths by standing at them to read a book, and protesting at talks to be attended by Beijing-friendly writers.

“The book fair has clear security guidelines, which state they can’t drive you away if you are not holding up any protest banners or chanting slogans,” the post said.

The bill, which would have allowed Hong Kong to surrender criminal suspects to jurisdictions with which it does not have an extradition agreement, including the mainland, sparked mass rallies and violent protests.

The council declined to disclose security details for the fair but said it had the right to not admit a person harassing or causing inconvenience to exhibitors and other fair participants.

The first day of the 2018 Hong Kong Book Fair at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai. Photo: Nora Tam

“We hope people can express their demands in a peaceful and rational manner,” a spokesman said. “We also hope people can respect each other and take each other’s safety into account.”

The Post has contacted the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, where the fair will be held, and SUP for comment.

Meanwhile, at least five demonstrations are planned for the coming two weeks following violent clashes in Sheung Shui and Sha Tin over the weekend.

A group of elderly residents plan to stage a silent march from Chater Garden in Central to the government headquarters in Admiralty on Wednesday.

On Sunday evening, the Civil Human Rights Front will organise a rally in Admiralty to call for an independent inquiry in police action during clashes.

Marches will be held in Hung Hom, Sai Wan and Tseung Kwan O on the following weekend.

This article Hong Kong protesters to target annual book fair and Beijing-owned Sino United Publishing first appeared on South China Morning Post

For the latest news from the South China Morning Post download our mobile app. Copyright 2019.