Hong Kong freedoms must be guaranteed: Merkel tells China

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BEIJING, SEPT 07 (DNA) – German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said the rights and freedoms of people in Hong Kong “must be guaranteed”, after meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing.Hong Kong has faced months of pro-democracy protests, and ahead of her three-day visit to China this week, demonstrators in the semi-autonomous city appealed to the German chancellor to support them in her meetings with China’s leadership.Merkel said she had discussed tensions in the former British colony, and civil rights there, with her hosts and had “pointed out that these rights and freedoms must, of course, be guaranteed”.

“In the current situation, everything must be done to avoid violence,” Merkel said at a joint press conference with Li, as seen in video footage published by German media.

“And the solutions can only be found in a political process — meaning through dialogue.” Merkel arrived in China on Thursday with a large business delegation in tow.

The companies travelling with Merkel include Volkswagen, Allianz and Deutsche Bank according to the German daily Bild, which carried a headline Friday that read: “Do our companies not care about Hong Kong’s freedom?”

Press access to her visit was unusually tight, with a number of members of the Beijing foreign press corps, Chinese officials blamed a lack of space due to a large contingent of journalists accompanying Merkel.

In a statement, the German Federation of Journalists criticised the limited access as a “diplomatic farce”. “What image do the organisers have of the travelling German press? Did they think that the chancellor of Germany is coming with her courtiers, who politely listen, ask no questions and report meekly?” it said.=DNA

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