Hong Kong reportedly turns away Chinese activists

Aug. 07, 2008, 5:11 a.m. (ET)

HONG KONG (AP) Hong Kong deported three Chinese pro-democracy activists based in the United States after denying them entry to the territory, a local lawmaker said Thursday.

Yang Jianli, Wang Min and Zhou Jian arrived Wednesday at Hong Kong airport ahead of a conference in Taiwan but were not allowed to enter, opposition lawmaker Albert Ho told The Associated Press.

Ho said immigration authorities did not explain why they denied the activists entry and he wasn't sure if the activists had planned to protest in Hong Kong. The city is hosting the Olympic equestrian events.

"They may have been planning to take action related to the Olympics," Ho said.

Zhou was deported to the U.S., Wang to Taiwan and Yang was being sent to New York via Tokyo, Ho said.

Yang, a Chinese citizen with a U.S. green card, only returned to the U.S. last year after serving a five-year prison term in China on charges of spying for Taiwan and entering the country illegally.

Wang is a U.S. citizen, which should entitle him to 90 days' visa-free access to Hong Kong. Ho said he wasn't clear on Zhou's citizenship.

The trio were allowed to enter Hong Kong in the past, Ho said.

Hong Kong, a former British colony now ruled by China, is supposed to guarantee Western-style civil liberties such as freedom of expression, but the government has apparently tightened controls because of the Olympics.

On Friday, activists said Hong Kong immigration officials at the airport detained two ethnic Chinese pro-democracy activists en route to Japan for a conference from Frankfurt, Germany.

In May, Hong Kong immigration officials turned back pro-Tibet activists who flew into the territory before its leg of the Olympic torch relay. Pro-democracy lawmakers also complained that police officers removed a pro-Tibet protester during the relay.

At a news conference for the equestrian event Thursday, Hong Kong Secretary for Security Ambrose Lee declined comment on the pro-democracy activists reportedly deported Wednesday.

Lee said the government values freedom of speech but warned potential protesters against disrupting the Olympic equestrian event. He said the government has set up protest areas near the competition venues.

"I think all Chinese, including the Chinese in Hong Kong, hope the Olympics are a success, so our policy is that we don't want to see people come to Hong Kong to damage the dignity of the Olympics and disrupt any Olympic events," Lee said.