US Army Chaplain, 1989 Student Leader, Refused Entry into China to Visit Dying Mother (with a Poem)

By China Change, published: April 24, 2015


Major Xiong Yan (熊焱). Photo credit: RFA.

Major Xiong Yan (熊焱). Photo credit: RFA.

Xiong Yan (熊焱) was a law student in 1989 and a leader in the student democracy movement that ended tragically when the Chinese government cracked it down with machine guns and tanks. Xiong Yan left China in 1992 and is now a U. S. Army chaplain stationed in Texas. His applications for Chinese visa have been turned down repeatedly over the years, and he has not been able to visit his loved ones in China, and, this time, his dying mother.

According the New York Times:

Now an American citizen and a United States Army chaplain, Major Xiong said in a telephone interview on Friday that he had asked to return to his homeland. His mother, who is in her 70s, is dying, he said, and he has asked the Chinese authorities to allow him to travel back to say goodbye.

But Chinese consular officials have so far ignored his request, he said, reflecting how the country has yet to come to terms with the protests 26 years ago.

On April 23, Major Xiong Yan flew to Hong Kong from Seattle, and at the airport in Hong Kong, he was taken to a room and questioned by Customs officers, his friend Wang Min in Seattle told Radio Free Asia. A few hours later, Major Xiong was told by the airport officials that he may not enter Hong Kong and must return to the U. S. immediately.

Major Xiong in Hong Kong six years ago, attending the 20th anniversary commemoration of the Tiananmen Movement.

Major Xiong in Hong Kong six years ago, attending the 20th anniversary commemoration of the Tiananmen Movement.

It must be noted that, as a U. S. citizen, Major Xiong Yan is eligible to enter Hong Kong without a visa, and six years ago he was able to travel to Hong Kong to attend the 20th anniversary commemoration of the Tiananmen Movement but no more, an example how fast the promise of “One Country, Two Systems” is falling apart.

While in Hong Kong, Major Xiong Yan wrote the poem below:


Arriving at the Border of the Free World

by Xiong Yan

Written in Hong Kong, April 23, 2015

Dedicated to my dying mother


I arrive at the border of the free world,

gentle of heart

and eager to move forward.


Gazing over there, at that leaden sky,

I cry out to my dying mother,

tears of sorrow mingling with grief.


Dearest Mother,

lying on your sickbed

as your strength ebbs,

forgive your unfilial son

for not being there to bid you farewell.


Here in Hong Kong,

I envision your pallid face,

I stretch out my hand

that I may be nearer to you.

Dearest Mother,

stretch out your hand

that we may meet again

in a more loving world.


Unable to meet here on Earth,

we will be reunited in Heaven.

The scene, so vivid,

is but a lingering hope.

As the pain of this mortal world

drives me ever forward,

I will remember what the Lord taught:

that Love is everlasting.


I stand at the border of Hong Kong,

gazing at my mainland—

a mainland I can but see

as a swath of gray.


I stand atop a Hong Kong skyscraper,

reminiscing of motherly love—

a love I may not meet again,

though I may but hope.


Hope is a truth

that each of us has,

a promise from God

to never be forgotten.


(Poem translated by Cindy Carter)



The Road Home Is 22 Years Long, by Yaxue Cao, January 15, 2013. How another Tiananmen exile returned home to visit aging mother.

Exiled Tiananmen Protester Blocked From Entering Hong Kong, the New York Times, April 24, 2015.


5 responses to “US Army Chaplain, 1989 Student Leader, Refused Entry into China to Visit Dying Mother (with a Poem)”

  1. Jack says:

    *Texas …. not Taxes

  2. Nice Poem..

  3. tarasherab says:

    Reblogged this on tarasherab.

  4. tarasherab says:

    So very sad the Chinese inflict such suffering upon a person who is already in sorrow! His poem was beautiful.

  5. […] up by my cell phone vibrating. I drowsily flipped open the phone and saw that U.S. Army Chaplain Xiong Yan was calling. Mr. Xiong was a student leader during the 1989 Tiananmen Movement. He was later exiled […]

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