An exiled student leader who took part in the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests in 1989 said Saturday that China has blocked him from visiting Hong Kong during the Olympics.
Wang Dan said in a statement from Los Angeles that the Chinese consulate in that city refused to accept his application for a visa to visit Hong Kong for a talk Saturday.
Wang said the consulate rejected his application because his Chinese passport expired in 2003 _ but Chinese officials have also refused to renew his passport. He currently travels on a travel document issued by the U.S. government.
"As the Olympics are being held, we've seen the Chinese government promise to be more open to the world. But it can't even be open to its own citizens. How can this kind of openness convince people?" Wang said in his statement.
The former student leader says he applied for a Hong Kong visa once before and was also denied.
A former British colony, Hong Kong returned to Chinese rule in 1997, but it maintains separate political and financial systems from the mainland and is promised Western-style civil liberties commonly denied in China.
Calls to the Chinese foreign ministry Saturday went unanswered and the office didn't immediately respond to a fax seeking comment.
China has deported pro-Tibet activists who have protested at the Olympics in Beijing, which end Sunday. Hong Kong officials have also turned away pro-democracy activists at the airport.
Wang rose to global prominence as one of the students who led the pro-democracy protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989. After a deadly crackdown on the demonstrations, Wang was jailed and later went into exile in the United States.
He recently graduated from Harvard University with a doctorate in history.
A spokeswoman for one of the organizers of the Hong Kong talk said she was frustrated by China's refusal to renew Wang's passport.
"If we're always stuck on this point, he'll never be able to visit Hong Kong. ... The situation becomes very desperate," said Cheung Ping-ling, a spokeswoman for Homecoming, a group that lobbies for exiled Chinese dissidents.
Wang has also expressed interest in applying for teaching posts in Hong Kong.