China’s foreign minister has asked Germany not to yield to Washington’s pressure to take sides, just hours after US secretary of state Mike Pompeo was seen as criticising Berlin for “failing to stand up for freedom in Hong Kong”. Speaking after his call with Wang Yi, German foreign minister Heiko Maas stressed the need for dialogue on critical issues with China, in a snub to Pompeo’s call for an end to empty engagement with the Chinese authorities. The leading economies of Asia and Europe also vowed to complete talks “as soon as possible” over the investment agreement between China and the European Union, Chinese state media Xinhua reported. Germany currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU council. Wang’s call with Maas came a day after Pompeo delivered a hawkish speech on China, in which he called on democratic nations to form an alliance against the Chinese Communist Party and dismissed the need for empty engagement with it. “Some anti-China forces in America have deliberately created ideological confrontation and openly threatened other countries to take a side. They confront China out of the US’ self-interest,” Wang said in the virtual meeting. “Any conscientious country with an independent will shall not join forces with it.” “[Washington’s] intention is to attempt to completely break off China’s development progress, for which any means was possible, even without bottom lines,” Wang told Maas “upon his inquiry of Sino-US relations”, according to the foreign ministry. The Chinese foreign minister said “China would not allow the US to do whatever it wants”. Maas told his Chinese counterpart that it is important to uphold “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong, on the same day that the EU was understood to have finalised a draft of action against the Hong Kong government after Beijing imposed the national security law in the city. EU ‘gravely concerned’ over Hong Kong, but rules out further action “It is, and remains, important to us that Hong Kong’s autonomy and the freedoms guaranteed in Basic Law, including freedom of expression, are guaranteed in accordance with the international law commitments made by China,” he said, according to the German foreign ministry. He added: “China is an important partner for us, but also a competitor and systemic rival. Maintaining cooperation is important to us. At the same time, it is also crucial that we stay in dialogue, especially on critical issues.” In a swipe at an unnamed country, Pompeo said on Thursday: “It’s true that some nations lack the courage to stand with us, for the moment. One Nato ally of ours won’t stand up for freedom in Hong Kong because they fear Beijing will restrict access to China’s market.” EU officials generally see this remark as being directed against Germany, where Chancellor Angela Merkel has openly dismissed calls for wider visa schemes for Hongkongers after China imposed the national security law. She said existing asylum measures were enough and Europe needed to engage China. Pompeo’s speech, however, dismissed the need for engagement with President Xi Jinping’s China. “The old paradigm of blind engagement with China has failed. We must not continue it. We must not return to it,” he said.