Two writers were denied entry to the mainland last week, apparently as a result of their writings highlighting the country's shortcomings. Li Jianhong, a Shanghai-based activist writer with the pen-name 'Xiao Qiao', said yesterday she was barred by mainland immigration authorities from crossing the border at Lok Ma Chau last Thursday and again on Saturday. Laurence Coates, a journalist and writer based in Stockholm, was denied entry at Lo Wu last Friday. Li, 41, who has a Chinese passport that expires tomorrow, said mainland immigration officials 'gave no accounts aside from repeating that they were simply following orders'. She left China in April last year for Stockholm, to be a writer in residence in the Swedish capital. 'I'm desperate to get back home to Shanghai to see my ageing parents,' said Li, who was scheduled to fly back to Stockholm last night. Li said she guessed her ban was connected to her signing the politically sensitive 'Charter 08' late last year and the seven articles she wrote to mark this year's 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown. 'In July, several police officers told my parents in Shanghai that I would probably not be allowed back to the motherland for my alleged persistent anti-communist and anti-socialist stance,' she said. 'But in my opinion, I merely gave some suggestions for Chinese authorities to improve human rights and be a responsible country commensurate with her 'great nation' status.' Apart from being a laureate of the Independent Chinese PEN Centre's Lin Shao Memorial Award, Li was also one of nine recipients of the 2007 Hellman/Hammett grants awarded by the New York-based Human Rights Watch. Coates said he was told by mainland customs officials that his visa had been cancelled because he represented a 'potential threat to national security'. 'I just wanted to spend two days purely for leisure in Shenzhen, which had nothing to do with my work,' he said. As a prominent advocate for independent trade unions on the mainland, Coates - under the pen-name Vincent Kolo - was also the main author of the book China, Sweatshop of the World, released last year, and this year's Tiananmen 1989: Seven Weeks That Shook the World.