German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday expressed concern over the “erosion” of Hong Kong’s autonomy and the principle of “one country, two systems” following Beijing’s imposition of the new national security law.
Merkel stressed that Germany would focus on dialogue in dealing with China as Hong Kong police started enforcing the sweeping legislation against political dissents in the city.
“Based on an open dialogue, we also speak about the rule of law and human rights, as well as the future of Hong Kong where we are concerned that the important principle of one ‘country, two systems’ is being eroded,” Merkel told Bundesrat upper house on Friday.
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A day earlier, she ruled out Berlin following the UK and Australia in providing support to fleeing Hong Kong residents, suggesting instead they could apply for asylum under existing mechanisms.
“The right to asylum in Germany is available to people everywhere, so I don’t see a need for further action on this,” she said at a press conference to open Germany’s presidency of the European Union’s council on Thursday, a day after the new law came into force.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced this week that up to 3 million Hongkongers with British National (Overseas) passports will be allowed to resettle in the UK and given a path to British citizenship.
Merkel also highlighted China’s importance in resolving some of the world’s most pressing issues, including trade and human rights.
“We will continue to pursue dialogue with China in all areas: On human rights, on social questions, but also on investor protection, reciprocal trade relations and climate protection,” she said. “Without China, we won’t be able to halt climate change.”
The German leader, who is due to step down next year, said that the European Union must speak with one voice to China if it wants to achieve ambitious deals that secure the bloc’s interests.
“In order to have successful relations with China and to represent our European interests effectively, Europe must speak decisively with one voice,” she said. “Only together the 27 EU member countries have enough weight to achieve ambitious deals with China.”
The bloc is eager to make progress on an EU-China investment deal after six years of talks. It wants to see movement in areas such as autos, biotech and microelectronics, and see Beijing limit subsidies for state-run companies.
Merkel did not directly address the question of whether the EU, like the US, was considering sanctions on Beijing over the law.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the bloc’s foreign ministers will discuss Hong Kong at their next meeting.
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More from South China Morning Post:
- Britain offers millions of Hongkongers residency rights and path to citizenship after national security law implemented
- Australia considers offering safe haven to Hongkongers as national security law takes effect
This article Merkel says Germany worried over ‘erosion’ of Hong Kong’s autonomy first appeared on South China Morning Post