Hong Kong's security chief says the Chinese territory will refuse entry to people authorities believe will cause trouble during the Summer Olympics. The announcement is causing a stir among pro-democracy legislators, who say Hong Kong prides itself on its civil liberties and openness. Naomi Martig reports from Hong Kong.
Critics of the plan to turn away some protesters during the Olympics say the measures are arbitrary and unnecessary.
Emily Lau is pro-democracy lawmaker in Hong Kong's Legislative Council.
"I don't know how they are going to find out who is wanted and who is not," she said.
Hong Kong will hold the equestrian events during the Beijing Summer Olympics in August. Olympic organizers feared the expensive horses used in the sport would be exposed to contagious illnesses in mainland China.
This week, the government's secretary for security, Ambrose Lee (Lee Siu-kwong), told lawmakers that Hong Kong is prepared to turn away people who intend to spoil the Olympic Games. He said protesters will be allowed to enter the territory, as long as they do not plan to disrupt the games.
He said Hong Kong's values of free speech and protests will still be respected, but that authorities must safeguard the public and enforce the law.
Legislator Lau says officials need to explain clearly who will be barred. She says restricting protesters will tarnish Hong Kong's reputation as an international city that allows freedom of movement.
"By and large people are free to come and leave Hong Kong, so if the authorities here use very arbitrary means to stop people from coming in, I think that would cause quite an uproar," Lau said.
Lau notes that during the World Trade Organization meeting in Hong Kong in 2005, demonstrations became quite intense.
"We had quite a number of people from South Korea, including farmers, who launched a whole series of demonstrations and protests which lead to violence, and there was a curfew imposed," she said. "But Hong Kong survived all that, so I don't know what the administration is afraid of."
Hong Kong, a former British colony, enjoys civil liberties not found elsewhere in China. But the city's leader is selected by about 800 people approved by Beijing and only half the legislature is directly elected.
In the past, the Hong Kong government has denied entry to foreign members of the Falun Gong religious group. The group is barred in the mainland, although it is allowed to operate in Hong Kong.
Chinese authorities are facing a number of sensitive challenges ahead of the Olympics, including international criticism of the country's human rights record.