Pro-democracy lawmaker “Long Hair” Leung Kwok-hung successfully entered mainland China on Friday – the first time in a decade.

Leung and 17 other lawmakers on the Panel on Development are on a tour to the Dongjiang River Basin in neighbouring Guangdong Province. They will observe the facilities that provide Hong Kong’s water supply on Friday and Saturday.

He was held up briefly by Chinese customs officers at the Lok Ma Chau Control Point after they found his business cards with the text “April Fifth Action” printed on it. It referred to an advocacy group founded by Leung 29 years ago.

Leung said the officers asked him about the meaning of “April Fifth.” He replied that it referred to a nonviolent protest that took place in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1976, but he said the miscarriage of justice related to the protest crackdown had already been redressed.

They also told Leung to take off a yellow ribbon – a symbol of Hong Kong’s democracy movement – and a badge that said “We are workers, not slaves” pinned to his jacket. The lawmaker said he refused to comply.

He said they eventually let him through as they believed that he was sincere about joining the field trip.

When Leung joined his colleagues who were waiting outside the checkpoint, pro-Beijing lawmaker Lau Kwok-fan said “welcome” to him in Mandarin. Another asked Leung if he was happy about entering China successfully, though Leung did not give a response.

The same outfit that Leung wore on Friday: A Che Guevara T-shirt, a yellow ribbon and a pro-labour badge. File Photo: Leung Kwok-hung, via Facebook.

On Friday, Leung wore his iconic Che Guevara T-shirt. In August 2014, he attempted to attend a forum on Hong Kong’s political reform held in Shenzhen, but was denied entry for wearing a T-shirt with the text “Do not forget June 4; civic nomination” printed on it.

He was also refused entry in April 2014 for wearing a T-shirt and bearing leaflets that said “The people will not forget.” He wanted to join a LegCo tour to Shanghai.

Without a Home Return Permit – a travel document needed for Hongkongers to enter the mainland – Leung has to apply for a one-time travel permit. He applied for one in 2008 when he attempted to visit earthquake-stricken Sichuan Province with other lawmakers. However, he found out on the departure day that his application was rejected.

A similar incident took place in May 2015. The China Liaison Office – Beijing’s organ in Hong Kong – said at the time that the decision took into account Leung’s conduct and statements.

The last time Leung entered China was in 2007, when he joined a tour to Zhuhai as lawmaker. He said he also entered China successfully in 2005, despite wearing a T-shirt with a politically sensitive phrase “Vindicate June 4” printed on it.

Secretary for Development Eric Ma Siu-cheung, Permanent Secretary for Development Hon Chi-keung and Director of Water Supplies Enoch Lam Tin-sing also joined Friday’s tour.

Ellie Ng

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.