Planning on returning to China for a month-long vacation to visit her family in Beijing and Nanjing, Han Xiaorong, 42, a Chinese citizen currently living and working in New York City, arrived in Hong Kong on March 4. On the morning of March 6, after a short stay with friends in Hong Kong, she attempted to enter China by crossing at Lowu into Shenzhen and was stopped by border officials at around 11:00 a.m. The officials took her to a separate room and detained her for several hours while they asked her basic questions such as how long she had been away from China and what she was doing in New York, searched her luggage and insisted on taking photographs of her. At around 1:00 p.m., Han was informed that she would not be permitted to enter China because of "orders from above." Han pressed for an explanation, maintaining that as a Chinese national with a valid PRC passport she had every right to enter, but was consistently given the same answer: "We are following orders. There is nothing we can do." Han had no choice but to return to Hong Kong. At present she can be reached at Human Rights in China's Hong Kong office: (852) 2710-8021. (Please leave a message and Han will return your call.)
Han Xiaorong is married to Liu Qing, chairman of Human Rights in China (HRIC), an organization founded by Chinese students and scholars in 1989 to promote the development of a grassroots human rights movement in China. Formerly an architectural engineer at the Institute of National Minorities in Beijing, Han came to the United States in July 1992 with her husband when he was invited to spend a year at Columbia University as a visiting scholar. Since then she has lived in New York City and worked at a jewelry company. This is her first attempt to return to China since her 1992 departure.
Denying Han Xiaorong entry to her country is a blatant violation of both international norms and of Chinese domestic law. Article 13 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which all United Nations member states are bound to observe by virtue of their membership in the world body, clearly stipulates, "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country." Various other human rights instruments elaborate on this right. Furthermore, neither China's 1980 Nationality Law nor the 1985 Law on the Administration of Border Exit and Entry by PRC Citizens allow for the exclusion of Chinese nationals from their country for any reason. Implementation rules for the latter law only permit for the cancellation of Chinese citizens' passports in two types of circumstances: if the person concerned has used the passport "to enter or reside illegally in a foreign country and then been repatriated to China" and if the person has used the passport within China "for purposes of swindling or deception." Clearly, Han does not fall into either of these categories. Human Rights in China urges the Chinese government to reverse the illegal exclusion of Han Xiaorong and immediately allow her to return to her country, as is her right.