Merkel under pressure to cut German ties to China as Hong Kong crisis sparks European reaction against Beijing

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  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel has come under heavy criticism from her own party and from opposition politicians, who say she is not taking a tough enough stance on China.
  • He intervenes amid international condemnation of China’s new security law in Hong Kong, which critics say undermines the island’s independence, and has already seen police arrest hundreds of pro-democracy protesters .
  • Powers such as the United States and the United Kingdom have all vocally condemned the new legislation, with the United Kingdom going as far as offering citizenship to 3 million Hong Kong residents.
  • Merkel, however, was reluctant to condemn the move and insisted on the need to “seek dialogue” with China on the basis of “mutual trust”.
  • He came as FBI director Christopher Wray said that China posed “the greatest long-term threat” to the security of the United States and accused of secret conspiracies to steal state secrets.
  • Visit the Business Insider home page for more stories.

The Chancellor is under increasing pressure to cut Germany’s ties to Beijing as the Hong Kong crisis triggers a violent reaction against the Chinese government in Europe.

This week, figures from all political walks of life in Germany accused Merkel of being too gentle with China, after the German Foreign Ministry warned German citizens of Hong Kong not to publish comments that could be perceived as critical of China as they could eventually be arrested.

“What the German government said about Hong Kong was the absolute minimum, and it just was not enough,” said Norbert Röttgen, member of the Christian Democratic Union party in Merkel and president of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the German Parliament, in comments reported by the Financial Times.

Merkel has long argued for the strengthening of diplomatic and economic relations between Beijing, which is Germany’s largest trading partner. She said last week that she would “continue to seek dialogue and conversation” with China and stressed that relations with the country were “of strategic importance” to the European Union.

“Merkel’s policy in China is behind the times,” said Nils Schmid, foreign policy spokesperson for the Social Democrats, junior partner in Merkel’s coalition government, according to the Financial Times report.

“It remains faithful to this idea of ​​convergence, as we deepen our economic ties with China, it will become more liberal and oriented towards the West. But it’s just outdated. ”

His approach contrasts sharply with the harsh response to the new security law passed by countries like the United Kingdom and the United States.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson reacted to the news by offering residence visas to 3 million Hong Kong citizens, denouncing the Beijing decision as a “clear and serious” violation of the Sino-British treaty governing the semi-autonomous island.

Beijing responded by making multiple threats that it would impose sanctions on the UK, with some Chinese hawks in London warning that China’s participation in the British nuclear program could be the source of the next diplomatic dispute between the countries.

The United States, meanwhile, has approved a series of sanctions against China, penalizing banks doing business with Chinese officials after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the decision. of “brutal and radical repression against the people of Hong Kong, intended to destroy the freedoms they were promised. ”

FBI director Christopher Wray said China was “the biggest long-term threat” to the United States on Tuesday and detailed hundreds of secret plots against Washington to steal state secrets, property intellectual and forcibly repatriate its citizens.

“The Chinese government is engaged in a vast and diverse campaign of theft and malicious influence, and it can execute this campaign with authoritarian efficiency,” Wray said in a speech at the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC.

“They calculate. They are persistent. They are patient. And they are not subject to the just constraints of an open and democratic society or the rule of law. “

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