I won't stop meeting Chinese activists, says German foreign minister

FILE PHOTO - German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaks during the budget debate in the Bundestag, the lower house of parliament in Berlin, Germany September 11, 2019. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he would continue to meet Chinese human rights activists and lawyers, both at home and on trips to China, after his meeting this week with a Hong Kong democracy activist drew Beijing’s ire.

“When the chancellor is in Beijing she meets human rights lawyers and activists,” Maas told reporters at a news conference on Thursday. “When I’m in Beijing I do the same. And I do the same in Berlin. And that won’t change in the future.”

Maas exchanged words with Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong at a Berlin reception earlier this week, prompting Beijing to summon the German ambassador in protest.

“Our fundamental position on China - one country, two political systems - is unchanged,” Maas added. “We support the rights enjoyed by the people of Hong Kong under this Chinese policy.”

Reporting by Thomas Escritt and Joseph Nasr; Editing by Paul Carrel