One of the long-time leaders of the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong passed away on Jan. 2, but even in death he is still inspiring challenges to the Beijing authorities.
Supporters of Hong Kong's iconic democracy activist Szeto Wah are still attempting to gain entry visas to attend his memorial service. Leading Chinese dissidents from around the world want to journey to Hong Kong to attend, while the Chinese regime would prefer to keep them out.
In the case of one of China's most-wanted exiled dissidents, Wang Dan, the precious entry visa may be given—it appears that Beijing has left the decision on his entry up to Hong Kong authorities.
The South China Morning Post reported on Jan. 11 that Wang Guangya, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, said the matter should be handled by the Hong Kong government and he believed that the special administrative region government would "handle it well."
Dan was one of the most prominent student leaders during the 1989 Democracy movement. He was placed on Beijing’s list of the 21 “most wanted” leaders and incarcerated until 1993. Released on medical grounds, he escaped to the United States, where he was granted asylum.
Many of the dissidents applying to enter Hong Kong are, like Dan, on communist China’s blacklist because of their involvement in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.
Now the former British Colony, which maintains a semi-autonomous status from the mainland, has found itself in a sticky situation.
If Dan and other high-profile dissidents are allowed entry, Beijing is likely to impose harsh reprimands at best. If Hong Kong refuses, the global community will undoubtedly lash out at Hong Kong for clamping down on democratic freedom and human rights.
Lee Cheuk-yan, vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China—the organization dedicated to bringing democracy to mainland China that Szeto Wah helped found and for which he served until his death as its long-time chair, said the mainland official's remarks were a positive signal.
Following Wah's death, Dan has pleaded to be allowed to pay his respects to the man, who many see as a democracy icon for China. Dan has promised to refrain from making press statements if allowed entry.
Hundreds of thousands are expected to attend the memorial services for Wah.