Barred June 4 activist on HK soil
Tiananmen Square dissident Wang Dan made an unexpected 'visit' to Hong Kong yesterday after years of being barred from the city, as his Taiwan-bound flight was forced to land by Typhoon Saola.
Wang, who has seen repeated attempts to enter Hong Kong snubbed by the city's authorities and has also been barred from returning to the mainland since his release from prison in 1998, spent nine hours in a transit area at Chek Lap Kok after his flight from Los Angeles was diverted.
While he made no attempt to pass through immigration and enter Hong Kong jurisdiction, since he lacked a visa, the former student leader, one of the highest profile figures in the 1989 democracy movement, wrote on his Facebook page that it was 'amazing' to set foot on Hong Kong soil.
Wang has been denied entry to the city several times, most recently last year, when he wanted to attend the funeral of Szeto Wah, the founding chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China.
News that Wang was at the airport created a buzz online, despite the fact he arrived at about 1am, with hundreds of people leaving comments on his Facebook page.
While at the airport, Wang visited a McDonald's restaurant and bought a T-shirt emblazoned with the words 'Hong Kong', as well as taking a shower. He also met members of the League of Social Democrats and gave interviews to the media. He boarded a flight to Taiwan, where he now lives, at about 10am.
Asked about the political environment in Hong Kong, he told the South China Morning Post: 'I still see hope. Many young people have stood up. They are concerned about society very much. It is very good.'
He also said the controversial national education subject should not be implemented in the city's schools as it would suppress free thought.
'I can see the opposition voice is very large. People took to the streets. A society with justice is a ray of hope for democracy,' he said.
He said he would not give up fighting to be allowed into Hong Kong and that he wanted to see if Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying had the tolerance and courage to let him cross the border. Leung's office did not respond to inquiries.
Wang said sleeping on the ground with other stranded passengers reminded him of the 1989 protests.
Meanwhile, Executive Councillor and Beijing loyalist Starry Lee Wai-king promised to offer assistance if Wang is 'unreasonably' denied entry to Hong Kong in future.