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China Scolds Germany Over Meeting with Hong Kong Activist

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, right, and Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong shake hands during a reception for German newspaper Bild, in Berlin, Germany, Sept. 9, 2019.

China has summoned Germany's ambassador in Beijing after a recent meeting between Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong and Germany's foreign minister, declaring the meeting will damage bilateral relations.

Chinese ambassador to Germany Ken Wu publicly rebuked the German envoy in protest of the meeting on Wednesday, two days after German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas met with Wong in Berlin.

The Chinese ambassador told reporters in Berlin the meeting "will have negative consequences on bilateral relations and the Chinese side has to react."

Wong arrived in Berlin on Monday night and was welcomed by Maas. Wu said German legislators also met with Wong.

"We don't know that goal these politicians have," Wu said. "Are they actually seriously concerned about Hong Kong's freedom, democracy and rule of law, or (do) they want to add fuel to the fire and thereby make political capital out of it?"

There was no immediate response from Germany, but the dispute comes days after German Chancellor Angela Merkel returned from a trip to China. Merkel said earlier she told Chinese leaders that upholding human rights was imperative.

China has accused the United States and other Western countries of fomenting the unrest in Hong Kong.

Protests that have sometimes turned violent over the last few months were triggered by anger over legislation to allow extraditions to China. But activists have since broadened their demands and are now calling for democracy and for Beijing's communist leaders not interfere in Hong Kong's affairs.

Hong Kong is a former British colony that was returned to China in 1997. The transfer occurred under a system that guarantees freedoms in Hong Kong that don't exist on the communist mainland, including an independent legal system.