Wednesday

29th Jan 2020

Merkel urges 'peaceful' end to Hong Kong protests

  • Hong Kong protests have been gathering pace since March (Photo: etan liam)

German chancellor Angela Merkel has urged a "peaceful" solution to the Hong Kong protests on a visit to China designed to boost trade.

"We hope that there will be a solution in the trade dispute with the United States since it affects everybody," she also said, referring to a US-China tariff war.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or join as a group

Merkel spoke alongside Chinese prime minister Li Keqiang on Friday (6 September) - the first day of a two-day state visit which saw her bring along several German CEOs and that will see her visit German firms in China and attend two business forums.

Li said only that China wanted to prevent unrest in Hong Kong, which began in March over Chinese efforts to bring the former British colony and business hub closer to heel with a new extradition law.

The Chinese ambassador to Germany, Wu Ken, also defended the actions of Chinese police in an open letter in German media the same day.

He spoke of the protesters' "evil occurrences, as violent attacks on parliament and police stations ... as well as paralysis of traffic facilities".

He denounced US "intimidation policy" and called for "mutual respect".

He also said German and French police had in the past taken "decisive action" against anti-G7 protesters and so-called 'yellow vest' rioters.

"Why does it [European public opinion] come to different conclusions in view of the same overall picture as soon as Hong Kong is mentioned?", Wu added.

But for his part, Tom Cotton, a US senator, posted a video on social media showing Chinese police beating up people on the Hong Kong metro in recent days.

"That's footage of police trapping Hong Kong protestors in subway cars and beating them senseless as they scream for mercy. Worth keeping in mind as you [Merkel] kowtow to chairman Xi on behalf of German corporations," he said, referring to Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

Richard Grenell, the US ambassador to Germany, also mentioned Chinese human rights abuses in Tibet and its mass detentions of the Uighur Muslim minority.

China "stands against the values Germany cherishes," he said.

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong protesters also appealed for help in an open letter.

"We sincerely ask you or your cabinet to [address] the face of the proliferation of police brutality in Hong Kong and your upcoming trip to China," their informal leader, Joshua Wong, said.

"In terms of civil and political rights, the situation in China has deteriorated significantly in recent years," Baerbel Kofler, a German centre-left MP who is the government's human rights commissioner, also said on the eve of Merkel's visit.

The trip - Merkel's 12th to China - makes her the most frequent EU visitor in the country.

China is Germany's top trading partner in a relationship worth €199.3bn last year.

But German exports of cars and engineering equipment and services are falling amid fears of a recession in the EU's largest economy.

China and the EU are also hoping to finalise a free-trade treaty under Germany's EU presidency due next year.

But European concerns on Chinese capture of strategically important EU assets, such as power plants, ports, and telecoms infrastructure, as well as anger at Chinese protectionism and intellectual property theft have held back closer ties.

Opinion

Merkel's China challenge - distance but engagement

The German chancellor's visit to China starts Thursday. She must signal to Beijing that Europe is serious and united in its newly critical approach to China - and show Washington that there are less destructive ways to deal with differences.

Stakeholder

Digital 'Iron Curtain' makes no sense in 5G era

5G technology is a product of global innovation and cooperation. Drawing an Iron Curtain would therefore have an impact on all: Chinese, Europeans, Americans, and others alike.

Opinion

Watershed moment for rule of law in Hong Kong

As EU foreign affairs ministers meet in Brussels, we have seen unarmed protestors in Hong Kong shot at point blank range, others bloody and beaten, and then incarcerated over the border in mainland China in prison camps.

Letter

Letter to the editor on Hong Kong

The Hong Kong special administrative region government is open to frank and candid exchanges with groups from all sides. Our priority is to end the violence and restore calm.

News in Brief

  1. EU commission presents 43 new proposals
  2. EU asylum agency to expand operations in Greece
  3. EU set to repatriate citizens from coronavirus-hit Wahun
  4. German Left MEP resigns over former far-right membership
  5. Sassoli defends 'renewed approach' for enlargement
  6. UK approves limited role for Huawei in 5G network
  7. Cases of coronavirus in France and Germany
  8. Report: EU court seeks authority on post-Brexit deal

Magazine

EU diplomacy 2.0

MEPs on the foreign affairs committee ought to be like second-tier EU diplomats on the Western Balkans and Russia, according to its German chairman, but foreign policy splits could bedevil its work.

Opinion

'A game of roulette' - life as a journalist now in Turkey

Turkey has more journalists behind bars than any other country in the world. The authorities seem to equate journalism with terrorism: everyone has the right to express themselves, but, in their eyes, legitimate journalism is a threat to security.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. EPP to keep Orban's Fidesz suspension
  2. EU not prepared for 2015 repeat, warns migration chief
  3. Selmayr did not want top job, says predecessor
  4. EU states wary of MEPs leading future conference
  5. Timmermans: EU climate law will 'discipline' rogue states
  6. In Orban's Hungary, the law is not for everyone
  7. 'Brexit is not going to go away,' warns EU's Barnier
  8. Belgian spy services launch internal clear-up

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us