Wang Lixiong, a prominent Chinese novelist known for his critical views of the government's policies toward ethnic minorities, says he was barred from leaving for Japan at a Beijing airport on the grounds that his visit could endanger "state security."

Wang, who returned to his home in the capital, told Kyodo News on Thursday that his departure from the airport was blocked Wednesday, with authorities citing reasons such as his support for Tibet's independence in cooperation with the Dalai Lama, and saying his trip would harm national interests and security.

"I was prohibited from leaving the country before, but this is the first time it was clearly on national security grounds," he said. "I believe this is a new way of controlling human rights lawyers and other dissidents."