Speaking at a gathering at the German parliament on Monday, pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong described Hong Kong as the “new Berlin” in a Cold War with China, calling on democratic states to back the city’s protesters in their campaign to halt sliding freedoms.
Berlin, which for years was split into democratic and communist halves by a physical manifestation of the Iron Curtain, was a flashpoint in the decades-long struggle between the democratic West and the communist Soviet Union, a position Wong said is now occupied by Hong Kong by virtue of its status as a comparatively free, semi-autonomous region of authoritarian China, Reuters reports.
“If we are in a new Cold War, Hong Kong is the new Berlin,” Wong told an audience at an event sponsored by the German newspaper Bild on the roof of the Reichstag.
“We urge the free world to stand together with us in resisting the Chinese autocratic regime,” he continued, saying Chinese leader Xi Jinping was “not a president, but an emperor.”
In a Facebook post following the event, Wong said he had spoken with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who was in attendance, and had asked him to convey to Beijing Germany’s support for universal suffrage in Hong Kong.
The remarks were made just after Wong was released from detention in Hong Kong, where he had been held for allegedly violating the conditions of his bail upon returning from a trip to Taiwan on Sunday.
He was freed on Monday, however, after it emerged the detention was a procedural error and that his bail requirements allowed him to take any overseas trips that had been arranged before his arrest, local news station RTHK reported.
Wong was one of several pro-democracy figures rounded up nearly two weeks ago for their participation in Hong Kong’s protest movement.
Before departing Hong Kong, Wong tweeted that his overnight detention was “wholly unacceptable and unreasonable.”
Wong’s party said he would also be traveling to the United States and would return in late September, without giving details of his itinerary.