(Bloomberg) -- China’s ambassador in Berlin issued a rare rebuke to German politicians and media who welcomed a prominent Hong Kong demonstrator this week, laying bare tensions over unrest in the coastal territory.
The envoy, Wu Ken, called the activist, Joshua Wong, an “instigator” who had been convicted of organizing unlawful assemblies in Hong Kong.
“Regretfully, some German politicians have received such an instigator of violent acts,” Wu told journalists in Berlin on Wednesday. “Because they lack the fundamental knowledge of the situation in Hong Kong, I have to assume they want to win political capital from this.”
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was the most senior official to meet with Wong, a prominent anti-government figure who traveled to Berlin this week after briefly being detained at Hong Kong’s airport.
It was an unusual admonishment from a foreign diplomat on German soil and comes only days after Chancellor Angela Merkel made a two-day trip to China. There she sought to balance a firmer stance on intellectual property rights and investments while ensuring access to China’s large consumer market.
Still, Merkel urged China to pursue dialog during a press conference Friday with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, adding that Hong Kong’s “rights and freedoms must of course be guaranteed.” At the time Li said he trusted Hong Kong’s leaders to bring violent protests to an end.
Wong, who gave a press conference in Berlin earlier in the day, is in Germany to win support for activists in Hong Kong, a global financial center and former British colony whose citizens are guaranteed special rights and freedoms.
Germany’s best-selling Bild newspaper has reported extensively on the visit, comparing Wong to dissidents in former East Germany as the country approaches the 30th anniversary of the collapse of the Berlin Wall.
Ambassador Wu’s appearance in the German capital was in line with a more assertive approach from Chinese diplomats elsewhere. The Chinese ambassador in the U.K., Liu Xiaoming, last month warned “foreign forces” to stop interfering in Hong Kong.
“I want to stress that Hong Kong belongs to China and that Hong Kong’s affairs are a domestic Chinese matter,” Wu said. “I would therefore discourage politicians from covering up violent crimes and intervening in the internal affairs of Hong Kong and China.”
Wu left the podium after his statement at the Chinese embassy and didn’t take questions.
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