Chinese man overstays visa in Thailand for 7 years over ‘cult’ beliefs

Immigration police arrested a Chinese man at a condo in Bangkok this morning who overstayed his visa by over seven years (2,662 days). He said he wanted to stay in Thailand because his religious beliefs are not accepted in China.

In the early hours of this morning, plain-clothed immigration officials – one wearing a “rasta baby” T-shirt – were patrolling the Bang Kapi area when they came across a “suspicious-looking” Chinese man standing outside a condominium building in Hua Mak subdistrict.

The officers inspected 35 year old Li Liang’s passport and found that he entered Thailand on July 24, 2015, on a 15-day visa which expired on August 7, 2015.

Li told police that he fled China after he was persecuted for joining the Falun Gong movement, a controversial spiritual movement considered a “heretical cult” by the Chinese state.

Related news

China accepts five religions, and Falun Gong is not one of them. Falun Gong is an offshoot of qigong and involves meditation, slow movements, and breathing practices.

The Falun Gong movement was founded by Li Hongzhi in 1992. By the late 1990s, officials estimated the number of Falun Gong practitioners in China at 70 million nationwide – rivalling membership of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

The CCP banned the practice of Falun Gong in China on July 20, 1999, stating that it was “opposed to the Communist Party,” “preached superstition” and was a “cult.” That year, security forces abducted and detained thousands of Falung Gong practitioners who they deemed to be cult leaders.

China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs said the Falun Dafa Research Society was “engaged in illegal activities, advocating superstition and spreading fallacies, hoodwinking people, inciting and creating disturbances, and jeopardizing social stability.”

Despite Falun Gong’s ban in China, it is estimated that between 7-20 million people in China still practice in secret.

Li Liang said he joined the secret Falun Gong movement and was caught and criminally charged. He said he was dissatisfied with both the Chinese state and China’s ruling system so he fled to Thailand on a 15 day tourist visa and never returned home in fear of persecution.

Immigration police charged Li with “being an alien who stayed in the kingdom without permission” for a total of 2,662 days.

Police did not say what was next for Li but it is assumed he will be sent back to China.

Li’s arrest comes after former Chief of Immigration Big Joke ordered the police force to crackdown on foreigners who overstay their visas in Thailand.

Visa Information


Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

Related Articles