China Activist ‘in Airport Limbo’ (Updated)
A Chinese activist, Feng Zhenghu, has spent the past nine days in Tokyo’s Narita Airport because the Chinese government has refused to allow him to enter the country. From BBC:
Mr Feng emigrated to Japan a number of years ago after alleged persecution following his participation in the student movement, but returned in 1999 to set up a consulting firm.
However he was charged with operating an illegal business by the Chinese authorities in 2001 and served a three-year prison term.
A spokesman for the Japanese immigration service at Narita airport said they had never encountered a similar case.
“We have tried to convince him to enter Japan, but it is his choice to stay there,” the spokesman told AFP.
[Image source: NPR]
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Also click here (in Chinese) to see his hangout in Narita.
His story: Photo of a comatose man whom the Chinese government dragged out of his house with a white picket fence for World Expo Shanghai 2010 construction.
Read also Chinese journalist Zhao Jin’s article: Toward an Open-border World.
On November 4, 2009 Mr. Zhenghu Feng was sent back by force from Shanghai by China’s Border Control Police to Narita Airport in Tokyo. This is the eighth time for Feng’s attempt to go home after his short visit to Japan. Make no mistake: Feng is a Chinese citizen (PRC passport number: G33406155) with mother, wife and daughter in Shanghai (residential registration number: 310108195407012452). This time, he refused to check into Japan’s customs. He has stayed eight nights (now is Japan’s November 13) at a bench in boarding lobby in front of the customs gate. Since no food is allowed in the lobby, for these nine days he could only drink water from the restroom. Before taking this heroic action, he flied to Oakland to meet me and other friends on October 17 to discuss our fight for China’s freedom and democracy. He has determined to stay outside of Japan’s sovereignty territories (not to making trouble for Japan, from our bitter experience) waiting for the Chinese government to change its illegal policy against its own laws against its own citizens. An international petition is under way, and hundreds of people have signed, to urge the Chinese President Hu Jintao to intervene to open the Chinese border to let its own citizens in. An open-border world is not only a dream but also a live-or-die struggle for people like Mr. Feng (and me too).
Mr. Feng never expressed any words or did anything to overthrow the Chinese Communist Party and the government. He is famous in Shanghai for his peaceful criticism of Shanghai’s authorities. The Shanghai authorities finally decided to utilize his Japan visit to ban him from going home. This is clearly illegal and against Chinese laws, so the authorities acted carefully not to make any documents. Strangely enough, all relevant agencies and companies, including Chinese, Japanese and American airlines landing in Shanghai, obeyed Shanghai’s lawless order. This is literally to kidnap a Chinese citizen away from his hometown (Shanghai) to a foreign country (Japan). All these airlines could not show any written document from Shanghai authorities banning him from going home. He has already filed law suits against these airlines in Tokyo’s courts for the past seven times. This time, he requests All Nippon Air to send him back to Shanghai.
I have to admit that the Chinese and Japanese governments become more civilized to control borders. Twenty years ago, after the 1989 Tiananmen Massacre, they did the opposite: the Japanese government handed Chinese students over to the Chinese government. That was a violation against the “Declaration on China” signed by Japan during the G-7 Summit in Paris on July 15, 1989. The declaration clearly stated: “We have also decided to extend the stays of those Chinese students who so desire.”
The Japanese Education Minister Nishioka stated at the Japanese Congress that the Education Ministry had prepared to legally protect and financially compensate any Chinese student affected by the Tiananmen incident. We believed so because Japan was internationally regarded as a democracy. When I was suspended of my scholarship by the Chinese government, I visited the Education Ministry officials at Osaka University. The officials frankly told me that the Japanese Congress and Education Ministry declarations were lies to deceive the Japanese public. Furthermore, when I consulted Japan’s Justice Ministry’s Immigrants Office in Osaka because I could not renew my PRC passport, I was told that all Japanese governmental officials had been instructed to prevent Chinese students from seeking protection from Japan. They told me, “You must go back to the Chinese Consulate to apologize for your mistakes. Your government has promised us that they will forgive you. If you cannot renew your passport, you become illegal in Japan. Go back to China!” Other Chinese students also received similar threats, “Just submit a letter of apology for your dissident activities to the Chinese government and you’ll be fine…You are ruining friendly relations between Japan and China…It is absolutely unacceptable for you to seek help from the Japanese government. Stop acting like such a baby.” I was even threatened that Osaka University was preparing to expel me with the excuse of “unable to continue study” if I decided to apply for political asylum. It was widely believed that the Japanese government and the Chinese government had a secret agreement not to accept Chinese political asylum. That is the reason why the Japanese government refused the first Chinese asylum application case for nine years after the Tiananmen Massacre. Human Rights Watch World Report 1992 – Japan concluded:
“Our primary concern continued to be Chinese dissidents who were in Japan at the time of the June 4, 1989 crackdown in Beijing or who later fled to Japan. Although the Japanese government promised at a 1989 summit of industrial nations in Paris that it would offer refuge to dissidents who feared persecution if returned to China, it has not granted political asylum to a single Chinese dissident. …Japan’s action had violated the 1951 Refugee Convention, which Japan ratified in 1982.” 
Borders have caused so many tragedies since human being was divided into different groups, especially into nations/states in our modern history. We see in the world that there are still many borders between China and Taiwan, between South and North Koreas, between Israel and Palestine, between America and Mexico, and so on. No people can be safe within a border while other people outside of the border are not safe. Besides, there are so many issues, such as climate change, cannot be solved within any border however “strong”.
People opposing open-border have reasonable concerns of the consequence. It is actually much easier to manage an open-border world than to build borders. In fact, history has provided us successful examples: the open borders between the united states of the U.S., and open borders between the united states of Europe (EU).
Twenty years ago, we tore down the Berlin Wall. Now is the time to tear down all obstacles along all borders. “It will take patience and persistence. But now we, too, must ignore the voices who tell us that the world cannot change. We have to insist, ‘Yes, we can.’”
US-Japan-China Comparative Policy Research Institute
Feng Zhenghu’s public message board is here.