BERLIN (AP) – Germany’s consul general to Hong Kong was brought in for talks, following reports Berlin had granted asylum to a student facing charges for demonstrating against the city’s extradition law, the Foreign Ministry said Thursday.
The ministry confirmed that Consul General Dieter Lamle had been summoned Wednesday by Hong Kong authorities, but would not provide further details.
The Hong Kong government said in a statement that Lamle was brought in at the request of Chief Secretary Matthew Cheung, official No. 2 Hong Kong, which told him that the government “strongly objected to hiding criminals under different pretexts by other jurisdictions.”
Diplomatic friction followed a 22-year-old student revealed earlier this week that Germany had granted him asylum.
The woman, who identified herself only as Elaine and refused to provide other personal details to protect her family in Hong Kong, presented The Associated Press documents confirming that her refugee status was granted on October 14. German authorities have yet to confirm the story, citing the country’s strict privacy laws.
He told the AP that he fled Hong Kong in November on bail after being arrested on charges of rioting and violating China’s semi-autonomous region’s masks ban law, introduced last year as anti-government protests grew louder.
The Hong Kong government called him “a suspect who was reported to have committed serious crimes and released on bail”.
“Mr. Cheung reiterated that foreign governments must stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs, which is an internal matter of the People’s Republic of China,” the statement said.
Protests against the Hong Kong government rocked the city last year after authorities tried to introduce a law allowing criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China. While the bill was eventually scrapped, protests against police violence and the erosion of liberty continued, prompting Beijing to enact new national security laws that took effect June 30.
The law prohibits subversive activity, secession and terrorism, as well as collusion with foreign powers to interfere in the inner affairs of the city. Many say the law effectively ends the “one country, two systems” framework in which semi-autonomous Hong Kong has operated since Beijing took over the former British colony in 1997.
The law prompted many pro-democracy youth to plan to leave the city for good.
Germany aroused Hong Kong’s anger in 2018 by granting asylum to two pro-democracy activists, prompting Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam to summon the German consul to complain as well.