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A slow but steady “mainlandisation” of Hong Kong, a key factor in bringing tens of thousands of protesters to the streets during last year’s umbrella movement, has been changing the face of the publishing and book distribution industry, with fewer shops willing, or able, to sell books forbidden in China.

Booming real estate costs add to that problem.

“Readers’ numbers are going down everywhere, and nobody can afford a ground-floor bookshop unless they are backed by people with very deep pockets,” says one publishing industry insider.

The three main local bookshop chains, with a total of 51 outlets, are controlled by the Liaison Office, Beijing’s official representation in Hong Kong, which, she adds, makes sure they only pay a nominal rent for their operations.

That the Liaison Office is controlling most media in Hong Kong has been raising concerns. Recently, an article in the Chinese language Apple Daily (the only newspaper in Hong Kong completely independent of mainland influences) detailed how, at times through shell companies, the office controls 100% of Joint Publishing, Commercial Publishing and Chung Hwa Books, the three main bookshop chains, fully owned subsidiaries of Sino-United Publishing...

Creeping censorship in Hong Kong: how China controls sale of sensitive books | World news | The Guardian

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