Fundraising to reopen HK Causeway Bay Books in Taiwan hits target

2019/09/06 20:30:49 fontsize-small fontsize-default fontsize-big
Lam Wing-kee / CNA file photo

Lam Wing-kee / CNA file photo

Taipei, Sept. 6 (CNA) Dissident Hong Konger Lam Wing-kee (林榮基), who arrived in Taiwan in April, reached his target Friday for the funding he needs to bring back to life Causeway Bay Books, the Hong Kong bookstore he operated that sold titles critical of Beijing.

Lam hit his goal of raising NT$2.8 million (US$89,689) -- a target he initially expected to reach by Nov. 5, at around 3:30 p.m. Friday, just 20 hours after he launched the fundraising event on the online fundraising platform flyingv for his new bookstore.

Lam issued an open letter on the Facebook fan page "Causeway Bay Books Taiwan" Friday to express his gratitude for the support.

"In the future, please give me the opportunity to thank you personally," he wrote.

Planning to open the bookshop in Ximending, one of Taipei's most popular tourist spots, the dissident wanted by China said on his fundraising page that "what Causeway Bay Bookstore cannot do or was prohibited from doing in Hong Kong will be carried out in free Taiwan."

Lam said he could have chosen to keep a low profile for the rest of his life, but decided to reopen the bookstore because he felt that only by enhancing a generation of cultural competency through reading will they be able to defy dictatorship.

A screenshot taken from flyingv.cc

Scheduled to open around June 2020, the new store will become a platform that connects Hong Kongers and Taiwanese, according to Lam.

Lam was one of five publishers selling books critical of Chinese leaders who disappeared into Chinese custody at the end of 2015.

He was released on bail and allowed to return to Hong Kong in June 2016 to retrieve a hard drive listing his bookstore's customers.

Instead, he jumped bail and went public with explosive testimony detailing how he was blindfolded by police after crossing the border into Shenzhen, China, and spent months being interrogated.

In late April this year, he told the media that he fled to Taiwan after the Hong Kong authorities announced plans to approve extraditions to China.

Lam said in a radio interview in Taipei June 5 that when he returned to Hong Kong June 14, 2016, he initially planned to leave the special administrative region that same day. However, he later decided to stay, as Hong Kong was where he grew up and he had not broken any laws.

On April 25, Lam fled to Taiwan, fearing that he would be extradited to China under the controversial extradition bill that was being considered by the Hong Kong government.

The bill was withdrawn on Wednesday amid fierce outcry by some Hong Kong people.

According to the Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan's top government agency handling cross-Taiwan Strait affairs, Lam's visa is due to expire Oct. 25.

Lam told CNA on Tuesday that he will visit Germany to attend a book fair in October, after which he will return to Taiwan for a longer stay.

(By Miao Zong-han and Chung Yu-chen)
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