Chinese activist living at Tokyo airport said China will finally allow him to enter country

By Mari Yamaguchi, AP
Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Tokyo airport protester says he can now head home

NARITA, Japan — A Chinese activist who has spent more than three months living inside Tokyo’s international airport said Tuesday that Chinese officials have given him permission to return home.

Feng Zhenghu has been camping out at Narita International Airport since early November to protest China’s refusal to let him enter his homeland. Feng had angered the Chinese government with writings on alleged wrongdoing by local authorities and for supporting student protests.

He announced Sunday that he met with officials from the Chinese Embassy last week and had decided to end his protest. But it wasn’t clear when Feng made his announcement whether China would allow him to re-enter the country — he had been denied entry to the country eight times since June, prompting his protest.

“Chinese officials told me that they are giving me permission to go back to Shanghai,” he said.

Feng, speaking from the airport terminal, said he planned to enter Japan on Wednesday before heading back to Shanghai for the Chinese New Year in mid-February.

He said he was certain that his attempt to return home would be successful.

“I won’t be rejected again, that would be impossible,” he said. “If that happens, it’s not my problem, it’s the Chinese government’s problem.”

On his last attempt to return, he got as far as Shanghai’s Pudong airport, where Chinese officials forced him to get back on a plane for Tokyo, which arrived Nov. 4.

Despite holding a valid Chinese passport and a visa to enter Japan, Feng refused to pass immigration control as a protest against China’s government. He used a laptop and mobile phone to talk to supporters and post on blogs and social networking sites such as Twitter.

As word of Feng’s predicament spread, he became something of a celebrity, with his situation reminiscent of that of the stateless man played by Tom Hanks who was stuck at an airport in the movie “The Terminal.”

Amnesty International describes Feng, who spent three years in prison, as a prominent human rights defender.

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