Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong on Nov. 17 urged Germany to stop training Chinese soldiers after People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops appeared in the Asian financial hub, Germany’s Bild am Sonntag reports.
Wong has visited several countries in recent months in an attempt to gain foreign support for Hong Kong’s activists. In September, he met with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.
Speaking to the publication, Wong said: “It makes me furious that the German Bundeswehr is apparently helping to train Chinese soldiers. Given the riots in Hong Kong, the defense ministry should have ended this program long ago.”
Hong Kong has been at the center of increasingly violent protests for nearly six months following a controversial bill that proposed allowing for the extradition of criminal suspects to mainland China, although this was subsequently suspended.
The city’s police force has been accused of using excessive force to quell the protests and earlier this month, the first protest-related death was reported when a 22-year-old student was killed.
Student Alex Chow reportedly fell from the ledge of a car park while attempting to flee a raid in which police had used tear gas, although the exact circumstances of his fall are still unclear.
Wong also told Bild that Hong Kong security forces were using “German water cannon[s]” against protesters, adding: “When will their export be stopped?”
Bild claims to have seen a top-secret military report that lists 62 countries, including China, whose soldiers are expected to participate in training exercises with the German military in 2020.
The German soldiers are reportedly set to train foreign soldiers on topics such as management, logistics, and press and public relations.
Human rights watchdog Amnesty International also called for Germany to halt its training of Chinese soldiers.
“In light of the human rights situation in China and the general role of the military there, there is no justifiable reason for Germany to help train the Chinese military,” the organization’s arms and human rights expert, Mathias John, told the German newspaper.
Speaking of the current situation in Hong Kong, John added that “the German government should send a clear sign and immediately cease any military cooperation.”
In a highly symbolic move unexpected earlier this week, China’s PLA soldiers appeared on the streets of Hong Kong to help clear away debris left by anti-government protests who blocked roads.
However, the move left opinions divided among locals in the territory, with some welcoming the army’s action and others questioning if it was actually a PR stunt.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has accused Beijing of repeatedly failing to keep its promises during a speech on Nov. 15.
Speaking at Rice University in Texas, Pompeo suggested the Trump administration will take steps to hold China to account in its international commitments, telling reporters: “What we are confronted with is a challenge from the Chinese Communist Party” that is “inconsistent with what they have promised.”
“We’ve encouraged not only Beijing, but the protesters to engage in this political discourse for what the people of Hong Kong want in a way that is nonviolent, that can—with some hope, be resolved in a way that is peaceful, with few injuries and less violence. That is our expectation, and we’ve made that clear to everyone operating in that space,” he said.