An exiled Chinese dissident was barred from entering Hong Kong and sent back to the US on Thursday, after he’d publicly appealed to China’s government to let him travel to Hunan province to see his critically ill mother in her last days.
Xiong Yan, now an American citizen and US Army chaplain, had attempted to enter the mainland from Hong Kong but was denied entry after being stopped by officials for questioning, the New York Times reports.
Major Xiong, a former Peking University law student, landed on China’s most wanted list for his role as a student leader during the pro-democracy demonstrations in 1989. He fled China via Hong Kong in 1992 and has remained in exile ever since.
Earlier this month, he penned an open letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, asking if he could return to his homeland to say goodbye to his mother.
“Last night, I found a photo my mother gave me,” he wrote in the letter. “She had taken me to a photographer when I was 100 days old. I took it out and held it next to a photo of my mother, now close to death at the Hunan City Loudi Rehabilitation Hospital Building No. 3, and I cried. The pain in my heart is unspeakable.”
The letter was ignored by leadership but widely spread among civil activists in China, some of whom went to visit Major Xiong’s mother, Xiong Yuanwu, at the hospital.
Major Xiong had been denied a visa to China but was not given an explanation as to why he couldn’t enter Hong Kong.
[Image via RFA]