German top diplomat defends meeting with activist after China threats

Berlin (dpa) – German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Thursday defended his meeting with Hong Kong protest leader Joshua Wong this week, after Beijing threatened Germany with “negative consequences” for going against its wishes.”When the chancellor is in Beijing, she meets with human rights lawyers and activists,” Maas said, referring to German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent trip to China. “When I am in Beijing, I do the same. When I am in Berlin, I do that also and nothing will change that in the future,” the foreign minister concluded. “Our general position on China’s ‘one state, two systems’ policy has not changed. And we support the rights that Hong Kong enjoys on the basis of this Chinese policy,” Maas said in Berlin. “We always said we were in favour of the protesters in Hong Kong voicing their opinions on the streets,” he continued.

On Wednesday, China formally summoned the German ambassador to Beijing and threatened negative consequences for bilateral relations after Maas met with Joshua Wong on Monday. 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. 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. “Hong Kong is the new Berlin in a new Cold War,” the protest leader said during a press conference Wednesday, in which he also called on Berlin to condemn police violence in the protests.

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