Police blocked a prominent human rights lawyer from meeting Germany's deputy chancellor in Beijing, the lawyer said yesterday, in the latest example of curbs on government critics.
Deputy Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel was unable to meet Mo Shaoping and other members of Chinese civil society in the capital on Tuesday, though he declined to comment on why the planned talks at the German embassy did not take place.
Gabriel had told reporters travelling 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.
But police came to Mo's office and said they had received orders "from above" that Mo was not allowed to attend, Mo said.
"They must have understood that I had been invited and so came over to say that I could not go," he said. "This is typical. It's not the first time it's happened."
Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said he was unaware of the incident. "I believe that Germans, as a very rigorous people, know how to be [good] guests in other countries," Qin told a daily news briefing.
"We uphold the principle of mutual respect and equality in dealing with differences to be able to increase dialogue and understanding. This is the … necessary path to take."
Two years ago police blocked Mo, who defended jailed Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo in his 2009 trial, from attending a Beijing dinner hosted by German leader Dr Angela Merkel. Merkel is due to visit China again in July.