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From The Socialist newspaper, 21 October 2009

Chinaworker.info journalist refused entry into China

LAURENCE COATES, a Sweden-based journalist and socialist activist, was turned back at the Chinese border in Shenzhen and refused entry.

Laurence, who under the pen name Vincent Kolo, has written several books on labour struggles and politics in China, was travelling on a valid dual-entry visa and last visited the mainland successfully for a holiday in Guangxi in June 2009.

On 16 October, he was held at the border crossing between Hong Kong (Lo Wu) and Shenzhen for two hours and then escorted back to the Hong Kong side by passport police - who told him his visa was revoked on the grounds that he was "a potential threat to the security of the country".

"This accusation is absurd," Laurence told chinaworker.info - the website to which he is a frequent contributor. "I can only interpret this decision as punishment by the Chinese state for my journalistic activity, the slant of which is unashamedly pro-worker and pro-poor and critical of the one-party state," he said.

This year, Vincent Kolo (Coates) co-authored a book on the 1989 Beijing massacre, entitled Tiananmen, Seven Weeks That Shook the World. The book, published in Hong Kong in May, has been banned by the Chinese authorities.

The website chinaworker.info, which is connected to the international socialist organisation, Committee for a Workers' International (CWI), campaigns for independent trade unions and democratic rights in China.

"We put forward the view that democratic change must come from below in China, from the super-exploited workers, migrants and rural masses, who are all paying a heavy price for today's pro-corporate and neo-liberal policies," Laurence explained.

"The decision to bar me will not silence chinaworker.info any more than the government's block on our website has done - as Victor Hugo said, you cannot stop an idea whose time has come," declared Coates.

Leung Kwok-hung ('Longhair'), who is a socialist member of Hong Kong's Legislative Council and well-known activist, told chinaworker.info: "These latest cases show that the Chinese regime is increasing its control and at the same time the Hong Kong government is assisting them in this task. No foreign government is standing against the regime, so the protest most come from the people."

Press Release Friday, 16 October, chinaworker.info

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