Beijing official says it was Thailand’s decision to block activist Joshua Wong’s entry
Demosisto student leader says he is not convinced by mainland government’s response
A senior Beijing diplomat has said it was the Thai government’s decision to block the entry of Hong Kong student activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung to Thailand.
The first Beijing official to elaborate on China’s stance on the saga, Chinese Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Li Baodong said yesterday that Thai authorities were acting in accordance with their own country’s immigration requirements and laws.
During the press briefing, Li said Beijing respected the decision and Thailand’s sovereignty and dignity.
“As for Joshua Wong, him not being allowed into Thailand, this was the Thai government’s decision made in accordance with its relevant immigration rules and laws,” Li was quoted by Reuters.
Wong expressed “extreme disappointment” with Li’s remarks yesterday.
He remained unconvinced and said: “The Thai prime minister had said there was a China factor involved. China only makes use of its economic power as a tool to exert influence on other countries in Southeast Asia.”
Wong, secretary general of the localist party Demosisto in Hong Kong, flew to Bangkok last Tuesday to deliver a speech on democracy to local students at Chulalongkorn University. His talk was to mark the 40th anniversary of a deadly government crackdown in Bangkok in 1976.
The 19-year-old was denied entry and detained at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok for 12 hours before being sent back to Hong Kong last Wednesday.
Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha was later quoted by media saying that “officials [in China] have requested to take [Wong] back. It’s Chinese officials’ business.”
It raised questions over the mainland’s interference in Hong Kong, and its influence on Thailand’s military government.
A Thai government spokesman later said there was no order from China to deny Wong’s entry.
Wong, a key player in the 2014 pro-democracy Occupy Central protests in Hong Kong, was also denied entry to Malaysia in 2015.