Hong Kong’s pro-democracy activists call on Angela Merkel for help

Hong Kong airport sees dramatic drop in passengers amid protests
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Hong Kong pro-democracy activist leader Joshua Wong has appealed to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel for help ahead of her upcoming visit to China.

The open letter — from the “Hongkongers in Germany Concern Group,” the “Civil Human Rights Front,” and activists Joephy Wong Sze-ting, Wong, and Alice Yu Ka-hei — calls on Merkel “to express concern over our dire situation and put forward our demands to the Chinese government during your stay.”

The letter was written before news broke on Wednesday that Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam will fully withdraw the extradition bill that has sparked three months of disruptive protests.

On Thursday, Merkel will land in China for a three-day trip, accompanied by a large business delegation.

Drawing on Merkel’s decades living in communist East Germany, the letter reads: “Chancellor Merkel, you grew up in the GDR [German Democratic Republic]. You have first-hand experience of the terrors of a dictatorial government.”

It adds that the “Germans courageously stood at the forefront of the fight against authoritarianism during the 80s.”

The letter urges Merkel to support the Hong Kong protesters, saying: “We hope that you show the courage and determination against authoritarian injustice regimes that inspired Germany and Europe before the end of the Cold War and which Europe is showing today.”

It also warns Merkel against charting too friendly an economic course with Beijing, saying: “Germany should be on its guard to do business with China, since China does not comply with international law and has repeatedly broken its promises.”

Speaking to journalists on Wednesday, Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said the Office of the Chancellor “noted the open letter by Joshua Wong and other activists through coverage in media,” but that the government was ”not commenting on open letters.”

Seibert dodged a question over whether Merkel would show support to Wong and the other activists before reiterating Germany’s position on Hong Kong.

”We call for a solution within the framework of dialogue — on the basis of the laws and freedoms laid down in Hong Kong which govern relations with the Federal Republic of China and the Special Administrative Region in Hong Kong,” he said.

“People in Hong Kong have a long tradition of the rule of law, and the 1997 basic law enshrines that law,” he added. “We believe that this should be the basis for dialogue and rapprochement.”

CNN’s Nadine Schmidt reported from Berlin and Begona Blanco Munoz reported from Hong Kong.