The German foreign minister has dismissed Chinese criticism over his meeting with Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong. He promised to continue meeting activists, saying: "That won't change in the future."
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on Thursday said he would continue to meet with activists after China issued an strong rebuke over his meeting with Hong Kong pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong.
"When the chancellor is in Beijing, she meets with human rights lawyers and activists," Maas told reporters. "If I'm in Beijing, I'll do the same. When I'm in Berlin, I do the same. And that won't change in the future."
Maas' comments come a day after the Chinese government summoned Germany's ambassador to China over his meeting with Wong. Chinese officials said the meeting undermines relations between the two countries.
"What happened now, I unfortunately have to say, will have negative consequences on bilateral relations and the Chinese side has to react," said Chinese diplomat Wu Ken on Wednesday.
Merkel also signed 11 separate agreements to expand cooperation in finance, research and transportation, among others.
Despite rising tensions between the two trade partners, Maas said that Germany's position on the "one country, two systems" policy remains unchanged.
"We support the rights Hong Kong enjoys under this Chinese policy," Maas said. "We have always argued that those demonstrating in Hong Kong should be able to express their opinions on the street."
Hong Kong in focus
Hong Kong enjoys special status as a semi-autonomous city under the "one country, two systems" policy enacted during its handover from British rule.
Although this year's mass demonstrations were initially triggered by staunch opposition to an extradition bill, the protest movement has since called for expanded democratic rights and police accountability.
DW's Henning Hertel contributed reporting.