An independent publisher founded by a teacher who was injured during the 2019 protests and unrest has been denied entry to the Hong Kong Book Fair.
In a statement published on Tuesday evening, Hillway Press said it was informed on Monday evening by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) that its application to participate in the July book fair had not been approved, “without any explanation”.
The publisher had been invited to attend a book fair meeting on May 6, but had been told the previous night that it had been delayed due to “unforeseeable technical problems”, the statement said.
Raymond Yeung, the founder of Hillway Press, told HKFP that he asked HKTDC about the technical difficulties, but received no details.
The publisher said in its statement that the annual Hong Kong Book Fair was a “thermometer measuring freedom of publishing in Hong Kong”.
“The HKTDC’s rejection of an institution that exhibited sociopolitical texts and was willing to comply with regulations…means that readers in Hong Kong will not have the opportunity to encounter these books,” the statement said. The editor said it was “extremely regrettable” that the organizer was “unwilling to provide a reasonable explanation to allay people’s concerns”.
In response to the HKFP’s investigation, the HKTDC said it would not comment on individual cases because “[when] organizing an event, it is not uncommon for some applications not to be successful.
Yeung told HKFP that the biggest cost to them was the time invested in preparing for the book fair. “There is a planned release for a new book in July, and we have been negotiating with contractors on the design of several big events,” Yeung said.
He added that they printed more products with the large number of book fair customers in mind. “We may have overprinted, but we may be able to sell them all for a longer period,” he said.
National Security Claims
At last year’s book fair, Hillway Press attracted complaints about three books that HKTDC said may be in violation of Beijing’s national security law.
The bookseller wrote in Tuesday’s statement that police officers inspected their stand the day after the complaints were filed last year and told them there was no problem with the books in question.
Yeung told HKFP that although the HKTDC sent them a letter afterwards, it only mentioned the complaints and reminded them to obey the law. “They didn’t say we broke the rules,” he said, adding that there was no further follow-up from the HKTDC or the police.
Hillway Press said in its statement that it was “always mentally prepared to have an alternate plan” to be rejected from participating in the annual book exhibition.
The publisher announced in the same press release that it would organize its own book fair which “truly belongs to the people of Hong Kong”.
Yeung said the main goal of the alternative book fair was “to include overseas Hong Kongers” as many of those who left the city might want to attend events in Hong Kong or buy products. local.
He said the independent book exhibition will be launched around the same time as the Hong Kong Book Fair, scheduled for July 20-26.
However, he said it might be difficult to find a perfect venue on such short notice and was considering the possibility of hosting the event online.