BERLIN (Reuters) – China has been trying to intimidate Hong Kong residents living in Germany since pro-democracy protests erupted in the city two years ago, the German interior ministry said in a letter to a lawmaker published on Tuesday.
The letter sent to the chairman of parliament’s human rights committee, Gyde Jensen, in response to requests for information on the matter, could add to the pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel to take a firm line on China’s human rights.
“Since the start of the protests in Hong Kong, increased efforts by Chinese state actors in Germany to influence public opinion supporting the Chinese government as well as actions against protest supporters have been identified,” the ministry said in the letter, first published in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper and reviewed on Monday. Tuesday by Reuters.
The letter cites a protest in support of Hong Kong activists in Hamburg on 17 August 2019 in which Chinese counter-government demonstrators filmed and photographed participants “possibly for purposes of intimidation”.
About 720 people from Hong Kong have residence permits in Germany, he said.
Jensen, a member of the liberal FDP party, told Reuters: “It is time for the German government to realize that Chinese government actors can pose a threat to Hong Kong’s exiled citizens.”
“Unfortunately I am skeptical that the mechanisms used by our security agencies are sufficient to protect those affected effectively,” he said.
The Chinese Embassy in Berlin did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment. A spokesman for the German interior ministry said he was not aware of the letter.
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