HongKong

Hong Kong activist calls for more support from Europe

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Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong has called on Germany and other European countries to step up their support for the anti-government protests in the city and denounced the “increasingly barbaric level of force” faced by the demonstrators.

Speaking during a visit to Berlin that has already angered the Chinese authorities, Mr Wong on Wednesday urged Europe to halt the export of crowd control equipment to the Hong Kong police and make human rights a core part of trade talks with China. Germany, he added, had in the past supplied water cannons and other riot control gear to Hong Kong.

“We are strongly aware that Hong Kong is the new Berlin in a new cold war,” Mr Wong said. “Hong Kong people stand in the front line to confront authoritarian suppression.” 

Hong Kong has been gripped by political turmoil for more than three months, after chief executive Carrie Lam tried to pass a law that would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China for the first time. The bill has since been withdrawn but the protests have continued unabated. According to Mr Wong, more than 1,200 demonstrators have been arrested.

Mr Wong called for full and free elections in the city, insisting that the protest movement would continue despite the recent political concession by Ms Lam. “We shall continue our fight for democracy and freedom because we do not accept that Hong Kong will be transformed into a police state,” Mr Wong said. 

The prominent activist is on an international tour to drum up support for the Hong Kong protests, and is due to travel to Washington this week. On Monday Mr Wong met German foreign minister Heiko Maas for talks that drew a formal rebuke from China.

The Chinese foreign ministry on Tuesday expressed “extreme dissatisfaction” with Berlin’s decision to allow Mr Wong to enter the country, and to meet Mr Maas. The German ambassador to Beijing was called in for talks at the Chinese ministry.

The rise in diplomatic tensions comes days after German chancellor Angela Merkel ended her latest official visit to China. Speaking in the German parliament on Wednesday, Ms Merkel said that she had made clear during her trip that a commitment to upholding human rights was “indispensable” from Berlin’s point of views. “This also applies with a view to Hong Kong, where we continue to believe that the principle of one country-two systems is the right one.”

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