A Hong Kong student group protest leader hears about a government travel “blacklist” while trying to fly home from a holiday in Taiwan.
In a Facebook post on Jan. 4, Eason Chung, a key member of the Hong Kong Federation of Students (HKFS), said he couldn’t clear the boarding gate in Taipei for a Cathay Pacific flight after his boarding pass was scanned.
While Cathay Pacific staff discussed his problem, Chung overheard the word “blacklist.” Chung asked the airliner staff about the “blacklist” after he was cleared for boarding, and was told that the information on their system on him was from the Hong Kong government.
In response to an inquiry by Hong Kong publication Ming Pao, Cathay Pacific said the company doesn’t comment on individual cases and apologizes for inconveniencing Chung.
This isn’t the first time Chung and others have been denied entry into Chinese territory since the pro-democracy Umbrella Movement started on Sept. 28.
On Nov. 15 last year, HKFS leaders Alex Chow, Nathan Law, and Eason Chung were told by Cathay Pacific staff at the Hong Kong International Airport that their mainland entry permits had been refused. The trio were trying to fly to Beijing to secure a dialogue with Chinese officials on the issue of granting fuller democracy in Hong Kong.
The next day, Hong Kong media reported that the Chinese regime has a list of over 500 Hong Kong students from various student organizations that should be stopped from crossing the border into mainland China. This news caused a stir in Hong Kong because it raised questions about whether the Hong Kong government is keeping tabs on pro-democracy groups and passing the information on to Chinese authorities.
At least twenty local college students have tried to verify the blacklist by entering China on Nov. 25, according to the Chinese language Epoch Times. Only three made it pass customs that day.
Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmakers and activists were also prevented from entering Macau when Chinese leader Xi Jinping visited the city to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of its return to the mainland. Interestingly, people with identical or similar sounding names to Hong Kong activists were barred from Macau that day, including a one-year-old baby.
Eason Chung’s Taiwan incident, however, marks the first time the Hong Kong government is alleged to have a travel ban list.
When asked to comment by Ming Pao, the Hong Kong government said they won’t discuss individual cases, and added that neither the Security Bureau nor immigrations has a travel “blacklist.”