In a rare gesture, mainland Chinese authorities have allowed a prominent pro-democracy activist from Hong Kong to visit his critically ill mother in China.

Leung Kwok-hung says he was granted a special permit to visit China for the first time in more than 25 years. He says the government in Beijing granted him the permit on humanitarian grounds so that he could visit his sick elderly mother in southern Guangdong province.

Mr. Leung is a frequent critic of Beijing and has been on a government blacklist of people not allowed on the mainland.