Barred from mainland China for more than 20 years, opposition Hong Kong politician Cheung Man-kwong visits Guangdong

Veteran Democrat Cheung Man-kwong makes a day trip to Guangdong more than two decades after Beijing invalidated his home-return permit

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 20 June, 2017, 6:12pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 21 June, 2017, 4:09pm

Democratic Party veteran Cheung Man-kwong – barred from entering the mainland for more than two decades – is the latest opposition politician to have crossed the border since Beijing extended an olive branch.

His home return permit was invalidated in the wake of the Tiananmen Square crackdown in 1989, but he obtained a new ­permit in April and on Friday made a day trip to Taishan, the hometown of his late father, in Guangdong province.

“My parents had always hoped to visit Taishan with me when they were still alive, but there was nothing I could do back then,” he told the Post.

“It feels good that finally I will be able to travel freely on the mainland.”

It feels good that finally I will be able to travel freely on the mainland
Cheung Man-kwong, Democratic Party

Cheung is a key member of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which organises the ­annual candlelight vigil for ­victims of the crackdown.

Home return permits are ­required by Hongkongers to enter the mainland and are issued to permanent identity card holders.

Beijing relaxed the entry ­restrictions imposed on certain pan-democrats last November and said it would accept their ­applications for permits again.

Cheung joined several delegations to the mainland when he served as a lawmaker before his retirement in 2012, but these trips were only made possible with one-off permits. He also came under the close surveillance of mainland security officers once he crossed the border.

He said his trip to Taishan had been smooth and he was not aware of anyone tailing him. “The experience is positive,” he said, adding he hoped to visit northeastern China next.

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Cheung’s party colleague Richard Tsoi Yiu-cheong, vice-chairman of the alliance, was the first formerly barred activist to set foot on mainland soil once the travel ban was lifted.

In April, radical lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung was allowed to enter the mainland for the first time in a decade for a two-day visit to the Dongjiang Basin in Guangdong – though he had only applied for a one-off permit.

Former Democrat lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan, also of the Hong Kong-based China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group, said he currently had no plans to visit the mainland.