China decries 'groundless accusations' over missing HK booksellers

A pro-democracy demonstrator burns a letter next to pictures of missing staff members of a publishing house and a bookstore, including Gui Minhai, a China-born Swedish national who is the owner of Mighty Current, Cheung Jiping, the business manager of the publishing house and Causeway Bay Books shareholder Lee Bo (L-R), during a protest to call for an investigation behind their disappearance, outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong, China January 3, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Tuesday that a Hong Kong bookseller specializing in publications critical of China is “first and foremost a Chinese citizen” and called on others not to make “groundless accusations” on the case.

Wang was speaking to reporters at a joint press conference with British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, who is in Beijing on a two-day trip.

Britain said that it was “deeply concerned” by reports of the disappearance and possible detention of five Hong Kong booksellers specialising in publications critical of China, one of whom is British, and urged the city’s commitment to press freedom.

Reporting by Michael Martina, Writing by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Nick Macfie