May 25, 2019 / 1:59 PM / a month ago

China calls on Germany to correct 'mistakes' over asylum for Hong Kong independence activists

BEIJING (Reuters) - China has made “solemn representations” to Germany after it granted refugee status to two Hong Kong activists facing rioting charges in the Chinese-ruled city, demanding it correct its “mistakes”, state news agency Xinhua reported on Saturday.

Ray Wong, one of the leaders of localist group Hong Kong Indigenous, leaves a court in Hong Kong, China, September 23, 2016, with nine other defendants after pleading not quilty on charges relating to Mongkok riots during Lunar New Year. REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Xinhua said the Hong Kong office of China’s foreign ministry summoned Germany’s Acting Consul General to Hong Kong David Schmidt for an emergency meeting on Friday, where a representative expressed “strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition”.

The two Hong Kong activists - Ray Wong, 25, and Alan Li, 27 - were former members of Hong Kong Indigenous, a group advocating Hong Kong’s independence from China. They were charged for rioting linked to a protest that turned violent in February 2016.

The pair, who later skipped bail and fled to Germany in 2017 via Taiwan, told Reuters this week they were granted refugee asylum status in Germany in May 2018.

“(China) urges the German side to recognize its mistakes and change its course, and not to accept and condone criminals, and interfere in Hong Kong affairs and China’s internal affairs,” Xinhua said.

The German consulate said this week it was aware that the two Hong Kong residents were staying in Germany, although it could not provide details on individual cases.

Hong Kong activists have become increasingly defiant in recent years, concerned about creeping interference from Beijing despite a promise of special autonomy for the city, which returned to Chinese rule in 1997.

Scores of activists have been jailed on various charges including contempt of court and public nuisance. Critics said Hong Kong authorities have brought such charges to stifle freedom of expression and assembly.

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam has also expressed “deep regrets and strong objections” to the German authorities.

Hong Kong authorities deny persecuting activists.

Reporting by Yawen Chen and Ben Blanchard; Editing by Frances Kerry

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