POLITICS

'Blacklisted' Taiwanese activist vows to attend Hong Kong's July 1 rally

'Blacklisted' Taiwanese protest leader vows to attend pro-democracy rally in Hong Kong despite not having a permit to enter the city

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 June, 2014, 3:27pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 June, 2014, 8:40am

A Taiwanese student protest leader has vowed to travel to Hong Kong despite his claims of being "blacklisted" by the Immigration Department after it rejected his application to enter the city for the annual July 1 pro-democracy rally.

"Regardless of what they will do, this will not stop me from going to Hong Kong as planned," Chen Wei-ting told the South China Morning Post when asked if he was aware that he could be arrested and deported for trying to enter the city without a permit.

This year's rally - which marks the handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China 17 years ago - comes amid heated debate over how to implement universal suffrage for the 2017 chief executive election and a controversial central government white paper on the limits of Hong Kong's autonomy.

Chen is a leading figure in the Sunflower movement, which mobilised hundreds to occupy Taiwan's legislature in March in an effort to stop a service trade agreement with the mainland.

The rejection of his online application for "pre-arrival registration" - normally a trouble-free process that allows Taiwan residents entry into Hong Kong - prompted two other prominent figures in the movement, Lin Fei-fan and Huang Kuo-chang, to try to apply online as well.

Their applications were also rejected, they said.

Asked about the incident, the Immigration Department said it would not comment on individual cases.

Chen originally applied to arrive in Hong Kong on June 29 and leave the day after the rally, July 2, he said. The three activists expressed surprise over the apparent ban imposed on them.

Lin said the trio tried to apply online for a permit multiple times, but were not able to file their applications.

"This is outrageous as we have never committed crime in Hong Kong," he said. "This led us to … think that the authorities in Hong Kong did it on purpose so that we cannot enter Hong Kong."

Huang, an associate research fellow at Academia Sinica in Taipei, has visited Hong Kong twice, most recently in the summer of 2011, he wrote in an e-mail. He said he believed he was being blacklisted.

"I asked my wife to apply for a visa. She got the visa," Huang told the Post. "It is pretty obvious that I am on some kind of list."

Chen said he attended the mass rally in Hong Kong on July 1 last year without running into any immigration problems.

Speaking at a rally in Taipei on the first visit of Beijing's top official on Taiwan affairs, Zhang Zhijun , to the island, Chen said the ban could set a dangerous precedent.

"We warn the Chinese and Hong Kong authorities against suppressing or blocking civic groups' exchanges between Taiwan and Hong Kong, or [they will] face backlash," he said.

The New School for Democracy, a Taiwan and Hong Kong-based group set up by prominent Communist Party critics, said Chen was scheduled to attend a seminar with the group on Monday.