British Conservative party activist barred from entering Hong Kong
Benedict Rogers, deputy chair of party’s human rights commission, escorted on to flight out of former British colony
Benedict Rogers, who has been barred from Hong Kong, addressing a pro-democracy protest outside the UK foreign office in August. Photograph: Benedict Rogers
A leading British human rights activist who has been a vocal critic of China’s erosion of Hong Kong’s political freedoms has been barred from entering the former colony on the eve of a key political summit in Beijing.
Benedict Rogers, the deputy chair of the Conservatives’ human rights commission, flew into Hong Kong on Wednesday morning on a Thai Airways flight from Bangkok but said he was stopped at immigration and refused entry.
“They gave me no explanation at all,” he told the Guardian by phone as he prepared to fly back to Thailand on Wednesday afternoon.
“It is absolutely bizarre … I feel shocked. I had received a warning that this might happen so I was mentally prepared for it but was hoping it wouldn’t happen. I feel very shocked. I feel it is yet another example of, if not the death, then the death throes of ‘one country, two systems’.”
Rogers lived in Hong Kong from 1997 to 2002, and said he had been returning on a private visit to see friends, including a number of prominent democracy activists. “I wanted to come and meet people and learn about the current situation,” he said.
Rogers claimed he had been indirectly warned, through a third party, that the Chinese embassy in London was “extremely concerned” about his plans to visit Hong Kong.
“In consultation with others, I took the view that if I were to cave in to pressure from the embassy I would be doing exactly what I have criticised others of doing: kowtowing to China,” Rogers said. “My conscience would not allow me to do that.”
As he was escorted to his flight out of Hong Kong, Rogers said, he turned to the immigration officer taking him to the plane and thanked him for treating him well. “I said: ‘Does this mean “one country, two systems” is dead? Is it “one country, one system” now?’