POLITICIAN and barrister Martin Lee Chu-ming will apply for a visa for China tomorrow - a move that could embarrass mainland authorities and hurt their hopes of hosting international conferences should they refuse him. If the visa is approved, it would be the Democratic Party chairman's first visit to Beijing since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. The application will be the latest move in a battle between seminar organisers LawAsia and the Chinese authorities, who want the right to vet the delegate list and censor papers given at this week's biennial conference. LawAsia president, Malaysian barrister Param Cumaraswamy, yesterday said he had originally intended boycotting his own conference in protest at a threat to ban Mr Lee, but had changed his mind. He said: 'I am insisting that Mr Martin Lee's application to register . . . should be treated in the same way as any other lawyer applying to register at this late stage.' Mr Lee, who was presented the American Bar Association's International Human Rights Award last week, said: 'I am encouraged by the strong stance taken by Mr Cumaraswamy and I will be applying formally first thing Monday.' The row has attracted widespread interest, partly because of fears that Chinese authorities may take similar measures to control the United Nations World Conference on Women in Beijing next month. It came despite assurances from China Law Society that there would be no interference in freedom of expression. Mr Lee, a LawAsia member, was officially invited to the conference. But, before he could apply, Zou Yu, the head of local co-ordinating body the China Law Society, said there was 'no place [at the conference] for people like him' because he was a core member of the 'subversive' Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movement in China. Mr Lee yesterday said his home visit visa had expired. But he holds a letter of invitation to the conference which delegates have been told is enough to have a visa issued on presentation. Ironically, that letter is signed by Mr Zou. In addition, it emerged yesterday that the China Law Society has objected to a paper by Professor H. P. Lee of Monash University in Australia which won its author a LawAsia scholarship worth A$5,000 (about HK$28,700). Mr Cumaraswamy yesterday said this was not only a violation of LawAsia's ideals but 'a violation of Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights'. Professor Lee's paper was entitled Constitutional Values in Turbulent Asia and the China Law Society alleged it 'contained scandalous remarks on certain Asian leaders'. After discussions with LawAsia, the number of cuts have been reduced to two. Only the censored version is being distributed to delegates. Professor Lee is not attending the conference. LawAsia, the only law body covering the Asia-Pacific region, has a strong interest in human rights. The Hong Kong Bar Association and the Law Society are both members, as are many local lawyers. The Hong Kong Government is sending nine delegates to the conference at a cost of $153,000. They are led by Solicitor-General Daniel Fung Wah-kin, who said when Mr Lee's ban was revealed it was 'a matter for LawAsia and the Chinese authorities'.