German Chancellor Angela Merkel began a two-day state visit to Beijing on Friday (September 6), but her trip comes at a tricky time:
Beijing has been dealing with protests in Hong Kong for the past three months, which has swelled into calls for greater democracy in the city.
On Friday, Merkel raised the question of Hong Kong with China’s Premier Li Keqiang.
(SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL, SAYING:
“I pointed out that these rights and freedoms must of course be guaranteed (…) In the current situation, everything must be given to avoid violence and the solution can only be carried out in a political way — that is to say through dialogue.”
Li responded saying that Beijing supported an end to the violence and a return to order.
(SOUNDBITE)(Mandarin) CHINESE PREMIER LI KEQIANG, SAYING:
“The world needs to believe that the Chinese people have the ability and wisdom to handle their own matters well.”
On Wednesday (September 4), Hong Kong Chief Executive announced the formal withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill, which has triggered the months of protests in the city.
However, many protesters said that the concession was ‘too little, too late’, and that they would not stop until their other demands were met.
Protests are expected to continue on the weekend, with plans to block traffic to the city’s international airport on Saturday (September 7).