Berlin / Hong Kong (AP) - The Federal Government has "increasingly" expressed concern about a worsening human rights situation in Hong Kong.

Following the recognition of two pro-democracy Hong Kong activists as refugees in Germany, a spokesman for the Foreign Office in Berlin said on Thursday night that there was scope for opposition and freedom of expression and freedom of the press in the Chinese special administrative region.

Now 25-year-old Ray Wong and 27-year-old Alan Li are the first Hong Kong activists known to have been granted asylum protection in Europe. Both had been charged with participating in violent protests in 2016. While they were released on bail in 2017, they fled to Germany.

"We generally rate the human rights situation in Hong Kong as good," the spokesman for the Foreign Office in Berlin told the German Press Agency. "At the same time, we are increasingly worried about the dwindling room for political opposition and a creeping erosion of freedom of expression and of the press, especially in connection with sensitive political issues."

The Federal Government did not comment on the individual cases, but merely confirmed that two applicants from Hong Kong would have received "refugee protection" in 2018. The cases are provoking excitement in Hong Kong as, from the point of view of observers, they indicate that the federal government is questioning the independence of the courts in the former British Crown Colony.

Since returning to China in 1997, Hong Kong is being ruled autonomously under Chinese sovereignty under the "one country, two systems" principle, but Beijing has tightened its grip.


South China Morning Post