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China Blocks Entry of Former Tiananmen Leader

FILE - Xiong Yan flashes a victory sign during a march in Hong Kong marking the 20th anniversary of the military crackdown on a pro-democracy student movement in Beijing, May 31, 2009.

China has denied entry to a U.S. Army chaplain who was a student leader at the time of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

Major Xiong Yan flew to Hong Kong from Seattle on Thursday, planning to enter China by land from Hong Kong. But as soon as he arrived at the Hong Kong airport, he was taken away by authorities as he awaited clearance to enter China. Xiong was held for questioning before being put on a flight back to the United States.

Xiong was at the forefront of the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy demonstrations that ended in a bloody crackdown by China's military seeking to impose martial law.

He fled to the United States in 1992 and later joined the Army. In the past few years, he has tried to go back to China to visit his ailing mother many times, but his visa application has been denied by the Chinese consulate in the U.S.

Recently, Xiong learned his mother was terminally ill, which sparked his attempt to get into China through Hong Kong.

On Friday, he told VOA Mandarin service correspondent Kuo Shun by phone that the immigration official at Hong Kong airport did not give any reason for denying his entry into Hong Kong.

“I asked the official whether you really know my case. Have you informed your supervisor about my case? The officer refused to answer my question,” he said.

Xiong said the immigration official really had nothing to do with the decision because he was following his supervisor's instructions.

"I really think the one country, two systems [arrangement] is nonsense," he said, referrring to the legal framework implemented in 1997, when Hong Kong was returned to Chinese sovereignty but was allowed to continue with its economic and political systems for 50 years. "There is no one country, two systems. They [Hong Kong] are controlled by the Chinese communist rule. They do not have freedom, either.”

Xiong wrote a poem for his terminally ill mother while he awaited clearance: “I arrive at the border of the free world, gentle of heart and eager to move forward. Gazing over there at that leaden sky."

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