Prominent Hong Kong activist appeals to Angela Merkel ahead of Beijing visit

Jill Petzinger
Jill Petzinger, Germany Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Hong Kong pro-democracy Joshua Wong leaves the Eastern Magistrates' Courts after being arrested and released on bail on August 30, 2019 in Hong Kong. Credit: Anthony Kwan/Getty Images

Joshua Wong, the 22-year-old activist who led the 2014 Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong, has written a letter to German chancellor Angela Merkel, appealing for her to support Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protestors during her visit to China this week.

“Chancellor Merkel: Please help us!” Wong wrote in the open letter (link in German) published in today’s Bild newspaper.

"You have first-hand experience of the terrors of a dictatorial government," Wong said, referring to how Merkel grew up in the German Democratic Republic.

“We are confronted with a dictatorial power that does not allow fundamental freedoms and uses more and more violent measures, with a tendency towards a new massacre like Tian'anmen Square,” Wong wrote. He added that "we hope that you will express your concern about our catastrophic situation and that you will convey our demands to the Chinese government during your stay in China."

Merkel will travel to China later this week with a large business delegation including the heads of Germany’s top companies, such as Volkswagen, Siemens, Daimler, and BASF.

READ MORE: FTSE jumps on hopes Hong Kong unrest could end

She will meet with president Xi Jinping and premier Li Keqiang, for what will be a difficult visit. As well as pressure to address the situation in Hong Kong, where clashes between the police and pro-democracy citizens have been going on for months, Merkel is also tasked with demanding fairer competitive conditions between China and the EU.

China does not take well to other countries applying political pressure or mixing politics and trade. Jörg Wuttke, President of the European Chamber of Commerce in China, told Handelsblatt newspaper that that Beijing is increasingly using tactics like a new social rating system for foreign companies to "bring companies into line."

Reuters reported this morning that Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam will formally withdraw the controversial extradition bill — the issue that sparked the Hong Kong protests — later on Wednesday.