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Hong Kong Activist Is Barred From Entering Thailand, Reportedly At China's Request

Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong (center) arrives back in Hong Kong after being turned away from entering Bangkok by immigration officials and police.
Anthony Wallace
AFP/Getty Images
Pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong (center) arrives back in Hong Kong after being turned away from entering Bangkok by immigration officials and police.

Joshua Wong, 19, who helped lead the large-scale pro-democracy protests that took over parts of Hong Kong in 2014, was refused entry to Thailand Wednesday. Wong was detained and put on a return flight after being blacklisted at China's request, Thai newspaper The Nation reports.

When Wong landed in Bangkok, he found a large group of immigration officials and police waiting for him; he was sent back to Hong Kong about 12 hours after he landed.

NPR'S Anthony Kuhn reports for our Newscast unit:

"By deporting Wong, Beijing and Bangkok apparently cooperated in preventing young activists from joining forces. Wong was invited by Thai students to help them commemorate the 40th anniversary of the massacre of university students by the Thai military - a subject Thailand's current military rulers would certainly prefer to avoid."

After arriving back in Hong Kong, Wong talked about his trip — and said he felt lucky that he didn't wind up in a Chinese prison, noting the plight of five Hong Kong booksellers who disappeared at the start of this year and were found to have been taken to the mainland.

The South China Morning Post quotes Wong saying today:

" 'I never imagined any place other than China would lock me up,' said the student activist who was one of the public faces of the 2014 Occupy protests. 'Thai officers told me I was blacklisted.'

The Morning Post adds, "He was barred from making phone calls to either Thai human rights lawyers or his family."

The 2014 protests that Wong helped to lead were dubbed the Umbrella Movement — demonstrators used umbrellas to protect themselves from both the elements and from police pepper spray.

Those protests also helped turn Nathan Law, 23, from a student leader into the youngest legislator in Hong Kong's history, as NPR's Rob Schmitz reports.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.
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