Merkel and Japan’s Abe express concern about Hong Kong’s autonomy

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed their concerns about Hong Kong’s eroding autonomy during a videoconference on Thursday.

Both were concerned that “Hong Kong’s autonomy could be undermined in the course of the introduction of the national security law,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert said afterwards, referring to a law passed by Beijing in late June.

The national security law is directed in Hong Kong against activities that Beijing sees as subversive, separatist or terrorist, and is also intended to punish “secret agreements” with foreign forces.

Critics fear the law effectively ends the so-called “one country, two systems” principle, which gave the city wide-ranging freedoms not seen on the Chinese mainland for a period of 50 years after it was handed back to China by former colonial power Britain in 1997.

In response to the law, calls have grown from economic sanctions to be imposed on China.

A member of Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) who is campaigning to become party chair, Norbert Roettgen, said on Thursday that sanctions would not work against China.

“[China is] too big, economically too strong, and technologically too advanced for our sanctions to do anything,” Roettgen told the media group Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND).

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