Hong Kong Police Explain Reasons for Arrests Over Children's Books

Hong Kong's national security police has expanded on the reason five people were arrested in regard to several children's books authorities have suggested were seditious.

Five members of the General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists were detained on Thursday on suspicion of conspiring to publish seditious material.

The arrests were in regard to the content of several books that detail a village of sheep that has to deal with problems posed by wolves from another village.

Senior Superintendent Steve Li expanded upon the reasoning for the arrests in a press conference, in which he said they aimed to "beautify illegal behavior," Hong Kong Free Press reported. Li also said the books aimed to simplify political issues "not comprehensible by children."

"The children, maybe because of the information inside, the seditious information inside, turn their mind and divert a moral standard against the societies. Not only Hong Kong. And they think that, 'We've broken the law, it's okay, because I've gone into this book, I've learned that this is not wrong,'" Li said.

Police said the books were based upon the anti-extradition bill protests, the case of 12 pro-democracy activists arrested as they tried to flee to Taiwan via speedboat and a strike involving hospital workers at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in which they called for the border with mainland China to close.

Li said that in the books, the sheep represented the people of Hong Kong and wolves the people of mainland China.

The three books were titled Guardians of the Sheep Village, 12 Warriors of the Sheep Village and Dustman of the Sheep Village.

According to Hong Kong Free Press, the chairperson, deputy chairperson, secretary, and treasurer of the General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists were among those arrested. It also reported that 550 children's books had been seized, as well as leaflets, computers and mobile phones.

A tweet from Hong Kong Police Force read: "5 execs of speech therapists' union #ARRESTED—suspected of conspiring to distribute seditious publications (kids' storybooks sugarcoating protesters' unlawful acts+glorifying fugitives fleeing #HK etc.) w/ intent to corrupt the minds of 4 to 7-yr-olds. 2 yrs in jail if convicted!"

Newsweek has contacted Hong Kong Police Force and the General Union of Hong Kong Speech Therapists for comment.

The arrests come after Hong Kong police also arrested a former Apple Daily editor and detained two other former journalists from the pro-democracy outlet on Wednesday.

steve li holds up book at conference
Hong Kong's senior superintendent Steve Li, from the city's new national security police unit, holds up a children's book which allegedly tries to explain about the city's democracy movement, at a police press conference in Hong Kong on July 22, 2021. Daniel Suen/AFP via Getty Images