China threatens Germany over meeting between Maas and HK protest leader
A meeting between Germany's foreign minister and Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong will damage its relations with China, Beijing's ambassador to Berlin said on Wednesday, in an unusually direct verbal attack on an important trade partner. The ambassador added that the Foreign Ministry in Beijing had summoned the German envoy in protest at the meeting - a statement later confirmed by Germany's foreign ministry.
China formally summoned the German ambassador to Beijing on Wednesday and threatened negative consequences for bilateral relations after Foreign Minister Heiko Maas met with Hong Kong protest leader Joshua Wong earlier this week.
The Chinese ambassador to Berlin, Wu Ken, said that Beijing had "voiced its deep dissatisfaction" with the "incident," referring to the meeting between Maas and Wong.
The German Foreign Ministry confirmed that the German ambassador had been called in for a meeting at the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
Wu said the Chinese government had asked that Wong be denied entry to Germany on multiple occasions. He added that the meeting would have negative consequences for bilateral relations between China and Germany.
"I want to underline that Hong Kong belongs to China, and that Hong Kong's business is subject to China's domestic policies," Wu said.
Joshua Wong, a leading activist in the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, on Wednesday attended a press conference in Berlin in which he called on the German government to publicly condemn police violence and abuse of power during the ongoing demonstrations in the semi-autonomous Chinese city.
Wong said Germany should stop exporting police equipment to Hong Kong as long as the protests continue as it was being used against protesters. "Actions speak louder than words," Wong said.
Wong also asked that the German government suspend trade talks with China until human rights issues were put on the agenda. He said he thought sanctions should be considered.
The protest leader said he had voiced his demands with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas during their meeting on Monday.
"More and more facts are showing that some radicals are hiding their true face and their maliciousness under the guise of wanting democracy and instead standing against the rule of law, against societal order and against the principle of 'one state, two systems'," the Chinese ambassador said.
Wu further accused Wong of planning violent protests in Hong Kong.
Wong is visiting Berlin at the invitation of the mass-circulation Bild newspaper. He arrived in the German capital on Monday evening and spoke with Maas - among other people - at an event organized by Bild in a restaurant on the rooftop of Germany's parliament building.
Bild was not given permission to attend ambassador Wu's press conference in Berlin on Wednesday, and when asked, Wu said the conference room was full, although plenty of seats were vacant.
Wong's visit to Germany had been delayed by a day after he was detained at Hong Kong's airport for allegedly breaching his bail conditions.
The key figure in the Hong Kong anti-government protests was later released after a court declared that his bail terms allowed for pre-planned travel and that his arrest was unfounded.
"Hong Kong is the new Berlin in a new Cold War," the protest leader said Wednesday.
He also said the demonstrations would continue in the Asian financial hub, as the protesters were still fighting for basic rights and their right to free and fair elections. Wong said this was Hong Kong's constitutional right, but that Beijing was not fulfilling its promises.
Wu accused German media of biased reporting on the Hong Kong protests. During the press conference, the ambassador showed a video in which police officers were being beaten up and injured during chaotic protests.
Wu said the actions of the protesters had long overstepped the line of legitimacy, and accused Wong of being an organizer of violence.
"He and his supporters aim to create discord in society, spread hate and violence, by casting the principle 'one state, two systems' in a negative light and defame Hong Kong's government and the police," Wu said.
He also used words such as hooligan, serious criminal and "almost a terrorist," when speaking of Wong.
The ambassador said German politicians were missing key facts on the situation in Hong Kong and accused them of wanting to make "political capital."
"We should be able to do more for bilateral cooperation, but what has happened now, I have to say very clearly, this will have negative consequences for bilateral relations. And China must react," he said.