BEIJING — The face of Hong Kong’s 2014 pro-democracy protests, Joshua Wong, has been detained trying to enter Thailand, renewing questions about Beijing’s growing global reach.
The bespectacled former student leader was invited to Thailand to give a speech about his campaign for democracy in Hong Kong, but was detained at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport, according to a Facebook post by the political party he founded, Demosisto.
The Thai student activist who was scheduled to meet Wong, Netiwit Chotipatpaisal, told Demosisto that Thai authorities had received a “letter” from China.
Chinese authorities have not commented on the issue. Wong last year was blocked from entering Malaysia, where he was due to speak on Hong Kong’s struggle for greater autonomy from China.
Wong’s detention raises fresh questions about Beijing’s ability to exert control far beyond its borders.
Last winter, the disappearance and apparent abduction of five Hong Kong-based booksellers rocked the semiautonomous territory.
One of the booksellers, Gui Minhai, was taken from his beachside condominium in Thailand. He emerged months later to deliver a chillingly incoherent “confession” on Chinese television.
“Thailand’s arrest of Joshua Wong, a well-known pro-democracy activist in Hong Kong, sadly suggests that Bangkok is willing to do Beijing’s bidding,” said Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch.
“Wong should be freed immediately and allowed to travel and exercise his right to free expression.”