Chinese Journalist's Brother Kept From Meeting With Merkel

china-merkel-and-xi-july-2014.jpg German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) meet at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, July 7, 2014.
dpa Picture-Alliance/AFP

The relatives of detained Chinese dissident journalist Gao Yu said on Monday they have been prevented from attending a meeting requested by German Chancellor Angela Merkel whose visit to China saw the signing of agreements involving Airbus helicopters and new Volkswagen factories.

A close friend of Gao, who was paraded on state television on May 8 and accused of providing "state secrets" to an overseas news organization, said Merkel had included Gao's son Zhao Ming in her wish-list of meetings during negotiations ahead of her trip, which began Sunday.

"Merkel wanted to meet with a few people, and Gao Yu's relatives were on her list of people she named," said the friend, who asked to remain anonymous.

"Of course they would never let her meet with Zhao Ming; that was entirely to be expected."

Meanwhile, police detained nine petitioners who staged a protest on Tiananmen Square as Merkel held talks with her Chinese counterpart, premier Li Keqiang.

"We were all dressed in black and were heading towards the Jinshui Bridge under Tiananmen [gate]," Xiong Fuling, a petitioner from Xiangyang city in the central province of Hubei, told RFA, after being detained by local police.

"After that, the police in the Tiananmen branch police station wouldn't give us anything to eat," Xiong said.

"We were held for nine hours and never given any food," she said, adding that interceptors from Xiangyang came and took the group away from the Jiujingzhuang unofficial detention center on the outskirts of Beijing.

On Sunday, around 10 petitioners were detained and held for an hour after they gathered outside the Volkswagen factory in the southwestern city of Chengdu, hoping to meet with Merkel.

"They didn't send us away but they detained us and wouldn't let us go in," petitioner Li Hong told RFA. "There are still 10 of us from [Chengdu's] Shuangliu county who haven't come home."

Merkel, who was accompanied by executives from Siemens, Airbus, Lufthansa and Deutsche Bank, toured Volkswagen's Chengdu facility before inking U.S. $2.7 billion in investment deals for two new car plants in northern China.

Japan relations

China on Monday marked the 77th anniversary of the beginning of hostilities with Japan in the Lugouqiao Incident, while Li referred to the war era during his press conference with Merkel.

China is increasingly at loggerheads with Japan over the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu island chain, recent visits by Japanese leaders to the Yasukuni Shrine, and an ongoing war of words over Tokyo's past military aggression in East Asia.

Beijing typically holds Germany up as an example of a country that has faced up to the atrocities of its past, while criticizing politicians in Japan who pay respects at war shrines and historians who take issue with international accounts of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre.

China says 300,000 people died as advancing Japanese troops rampaged through the city, while an international military tribunal in 1948 estimated that more than 200,000 Chinese were killed.

Beijing recently applied to have its historical archives on the massacre and the widespread forcing of "comfort women" into prostitution to serve the Japanese military admitted to the UNESCO Memory of the World Register.

Japan has acknowledged that the Nanjing massacre took place, though its historians say Beijing has inflated the figures.

"The future can begin and peace can be maintained only if lessons from history are kept in mind," Li said, in an implied side-swipe at Tokyo.

Merkel said Germany is willing to collaborate closely with China in international and regional affairs, adding that Germany appreciates China's support of the EU and the euro, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Rights lawyer

Meanwhile, top Beijing rights lawyer Li Fangping said he had been prevented from leaving the country on Monday.

"I can't work it out," Li said. "June 4 is past; July 1 is gone. I never thought they would suddenly just stop me leaving the country like this."

"They have stopped me a number of times before, but this time they also searched me; they searched my person and my luggage," Li said. "There was no concrete reason given."

"They just said it was under orders of the Beijing municipal police, because my leaving the country could endanger state security."

Reported by Hai Nan for RFA's Cantonese Service, and by Yang Fan for the Mandarin Service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.


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