WUHAN, China (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel renewed calls for a peaceful solution to unrest in Hong Kong on Saturday during her trip to China.
The Hong Kong protests have overshadowed a three-day visit Merkel had planned to use to press for greater access to Chinese markets for German businesses suffering a slowdown at home.
“I have advocated that conflicts be resolved without violence and that anything else would be a catastrophe from my point of view,” Merkel said.
After talks with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, Merkel said Beijing had listened to her views.
“This is important,” she added.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced concessions this week to try to end the protests, including formally scrapping a hugely unpopular extradition bill, but many said these were too little, too late.
Joshua Wong, a leader of pro-democracy protests in 2014 that were the precursor to the current unrest, thanked Merkel for addressing the topic with Beijing but said her comments fell short.
“Germany’s business interest should not override the universal values in which we believe,” Wong said in an interview with Germany’s mass-circulation Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
“If the Chancellor wants to do something, she must help to urge President Xi to respond to the demand for free elections.”
Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Tom Sims; Editing by Alexander Smith