Diaoyu Islands

Diaoyu protesters' bid blocked

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 August, 2006, 12:00am


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Mainland activists prevented from coming to Hong Kong

Three mainland activists have been prevented from coming to Hong Kong to join a protest voyage to the disputed Diaoyu Islands later this month.

Two activists who tried to enter Hong Kong yesterday were stopped at the Lowu checkpoint despite having visas.

They were Chen Fule and Lin Yuwei, members of the Chinese Civilian Association for Safeguarding the Diaoyu Islands. A third activist, Li Yiqiang , has been unable to get a visa and remains in Fujian .

Mr Chen said at least a dozen more activists were expected to attempt the crossing to Hong Kong in the coming days to join the voyage protesting in favour of Chinese sovereignty over the islands.

'I fear they'll all be blocked at the Lowu checkpoint,' he said.

Mr Chen said mainland checkpoint officials cancelled his visa for this particular trip. 'They took away my visa and mobile phone and asked me to wait inside a room,' he said.

'Nearly 40 minutes later they returned and said I could go home, but not enter Hong Kong, and they refused to tell me why.'

Mr Lin refused to comment on the rejection.

Mr Li, from Xiamen , said his application for a visa was rejected and his multiple-entry visa retained by the government.

'It's OK that the government doesn't support our aspirations. But as Chinese citizens, we should have the right to defend our land,' said Mr Li, whose visa was held by the government for 10 months last year after applying to Hong Kong for a similar cause.

The chairman of the Hong Kong-based Action Committee for Defending the Diaoyu Islands, Or Wah, said he was unaware of his mainland counterparts' ordeal and added he would be unhappy if Beijing had tried to impose any hindrance.

'We are just a group trying to express our voices,' Mr Or said. 'Why would they try to stop us?'

The committee has received more than 90 applications for the expedition so far, of which around 70 are local Diaoyu activists and the rest are from the mainland. Up to six university students have expressed an interest in joining the trip for the first time.

However, the two vessels, due to set sail on August 15, may have to postpone their voyage.

'One of our vessels is still under repair. At this moment we are not sure when it will be ready,' Mr Or said.