Staying true to form, China yesterday lashed out at Germany over a meeting between Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong and Germany’s foreign minister on the sidelines of an event in Berlin this week, calling it “disrespectful.”
Posting a photo of himself and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on his Twitter account, 22-year-old Wong they spoke on the “protest situation and our cause to free election and democracy in HK.”
Beijing — as is its wont when it comes to this kind of thing — reacted angrily to the seemingly anodyne photo op, held during an event organized by the German tabloid Bild, saying “it is extremely wrong for German media and politicians to attempt to tap into the anti-China separatist wave.”
“It is disrespectful of China’s sovereignty and an interference in China’s internal affairs,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.
“I want to stress once again that Hong Kong affairs are purely China’s internal affairs. No foreign government, organization or individual has the right to intervene,” Hua said, adding that Beijing “strongly disapproves” of the meeting.
But Wong shrugged off Beijing’s remarks, calling them “baffling.”
“This tactic won’t make China look powerful,” he wrote on Twitter.
Wong, who is currently out on bail after being arrested over his role in the recent protests, gave a brief speech at the event in Germany, describing Hong Kong as the “new Berlin” in a Cold War with China, and calling for support for the city’s pro-democracy movement.
The activist’s visit came on the heels of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s trip to China, where she stressed Friday that the rights and freedoms of people in Hong Kong “must be guaranteed,” after meeting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing.
Ahead of her three-day visit to China, demonstrators in the semi-autonomous city appealed to the German leader to support them in her meetings with China’s leadership.
Wong himself had written an open letter to Merkel, seeking her backing.
Germany has emerged as a country of refuge for a number of Chinese dissidents in recent years, including Liu Xia, the widow of Chinese Nobel dissident Liu Xiaobo.
In May, two former Hong Kong independence activists were granted refugee status in Germany in what is one of the first cases of dissenters from the city receiving such protection.
Wong arrived late to the event in Berlin after he was briefly detained in Hong Kong just before his departure to Germany due to a procedural error related to his bail conditions.
Wong is now due to travel to the United States.