Chinese police blocked a prominent human rights lawyer from meeting a top German politician, the lawyer said yesterday, in the latest example of curbs on government critics in China.
German Deputy Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel was unable to hold talks with members of Chinese civil society during a visit to Beijing on Tuesday, though he declined to comment on why the planned meeting at the German embassy had not taken place.
Gabriel had told reporters traveling with him to China that he would meet critics of the Chinese government, saying he believed that European politicians had an obligation to show support for such dissidents.
However, police came to the office of human rights lawyer Mo Shaoping (莫少平) and said they had received orders “from above” that Mo was not allowed to attend, Mo told reporters.
“They must have understood that I had been invited and so came over to say that I could not go,” he said.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Gabriel was on a two-day visit to China, accompanied by a large delegation of business officials.
He raised the issue of human rights and the rule of law during hour-long talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強).
Two years ago police blocked Mo, who defended China’s jailed Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波) in his 2009 trial, from attending a Beijing dinner hosted by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
“It’s regretful, but this is the present situation in China,” Mo said.
“I was invited, as an ordinary citizen, by a visiting foreign dignitary and there is no legal basis for stopping me,” he said.
However, Mo said he had been able to meet German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier earlier in the month, when he was in China.
Hu Xingdou (胡星斗), a specialist in migrant issues at the Beijing Institute of Technology and an outspoken critic on social issues, said he had been invited to meet Gabriel too, but could not go as he was teaching.
It was ridiculous that the police should be telling people like Mo they could not meet Gabriel, Hu added.
“This is China blackening its own name in front of Germany,” Hu said.