Thailand made decision to block Hong Kong activist’s visit: China

Bespectacled Joshua Wong, 19, who helped organise pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in 2014, was detained in Bangkok where he had been invited to speak at universities about protests and on setting up his political party.

By: Reuters | Beijing | Published:October 10, 2016 11:19 am
Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, center, shows the letter from Thailand Immigration office after arriving at Hong Kong airport from Bangkok, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016. Thailand stopped teen pro-democracy activist Wong from entering the country and sent him back to Hong Kong, officials said Wednesday, in a move supporters suspected was triggered by pressure from Beijing. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung) Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong, center, shows the letter from Thailand Immigration office after arriving at Hong Kong airport from Bangkok, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2016.  (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

It was the Thai government that made a decision to block the entry to Thailand of a Hong Kong student activist last week, a senior Chinese diplomat said on Monday. Bespectacled Joshua Wong, 19, who helped organise pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in 2014, was detained in Bangkok where he had been invited to speak at universities about Hong Kong’s “Umbrella Movement” protests and on setting up his political party.

The case raised fresh questions about mainland interference in Hong Kong, which though part of China is meant to enjoy considerable autonomy under a “one country, two systems” formula, and about Chinese influence on Thailand’s military government. Asked about the case, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong said China was consistent when it came to respecting other countries’ sovereignty, no matter how big or small the country is.

“As for Joshua Wong, him not being allowed into Thailand, this was the Thai government’s decision made in accordance with its relevant immigration rules and laws,” Li added, without elaborating. Thailand’s Nation newspaper last week quoted a deputy commander of airport immigration police, Colonel Pruthipong Prayoonsiri, as saying China had sent a request “to seek cooperation to deny” Wong entry.

But Pruthipong later told Reuters he had not spoken to the newspaper, did not know if Wong had been blacklisted and declined further comment Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has said Wong’s expulsion was a matter for China, not Thailand.

Thailand has been ruled by a junta since a 2014 coup which was widely condemned by the West. Since then, the generals running Thailand have forged closer ties with China. Chinese Vice Premier Li Yuanchao met Prayuth in Bangkok on Sunday, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday.

Li expressed his hope the two countries would increase mutual support on key issues and “make contributions on maintaining the peace, security and stability of the two nations and the region”, the ministry added.

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