A man who says he lost his Hong Kong identity card after being jailed on the mainland two decades ago has called on the government to help him regain his residency status. Li Kin-chung, 54, said he lived in Hong Kong from 1979 to 1983 and sneaked back into the city last month after joining a tour group on a day trip to Chung Ying Street in Shataukok - half of which lies on the mainland and half in the special administrative region. Mr Li said he initially entered Hong Kong as an illegal immigrant, but was issued an identity card in 1980. Under a 'touch base' policy introduced in 1974, those who made it into urban areas to meet their relatives were allowed to remain in Hong Kong. Mr Li said he was arrested in 1983 while visiting family members in his home town of Binzhou , Shandong province . He was sentenced to life imprisonment for a 'counter-revolutionary' offence, which he believed was related to a visit he made to Taiwan in 1981. He claimed to have lost his Hong Kong identity card after being granted an early release in 1992, only retaining a photocopy that was returned by authorities. 'The mainland authorities did not allow me to return to Hong Kong, so I decided to sneak back ... last month,' he said. James Lung Wai-man, chairman of the Hong Kong Community Development Network, said he asked the Immigration Department last week to help verify Mr Li's status. 'But the department said the burden of proving one's identity fell on the applicant,' Mr Lung said. Mr Li, who is staying with a friend in Kowloon, said he had worked for several companies during his four-year stay in Hong Kong, including Dairy Farm and a security company. A spokesman for the Immigration Department refused to comment on individual cases. He said that under the Immigration Ordinance, Chinese citizens who had lived in Hong Kong for a continuous period of not less than seven years were considered permanent residents with right of abode. 'We will repatriate all illegal immigrants who do not have right of abode in Hong Kong in accordance with the laws,' he said.