Beijing vetoes Merkel, a sign of China’s weakness and fear
The Chancellor concluded her visit to the country, marked by prohibitions and news blackout: meeting with a dissident prevented, visit to a non-government newspaper cancelled, the presence of the media blocked at visit the Catholic bishop of Guangzhou.
Guangzhou (AsiaNews) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to China was characterized by a series of vetoes imposed by the Chinese regime to avoid "sensitive" meetings between the German leader and dissidents, independent media and religious figures. The approach chosen by Beijing shows how the Chinese government is afraid of new criticism from the international community over its denial of human rights and religious freedom.

Merkel left this morning from Guangzhou, capital of the rich southern province of Guangdong. Before leaving China, she was to have met with the Catholic bishop - Msgr. Gan Junqiu - inside the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart. However, the authorities imposed a total media blackout during the meeting. Bishop Gan is one of the bishops who was compelled by force to participate in illicit episcopal ordination in Shantou, last July (see 14/07/Eight bishops in communion with the pope forced to take part in illegitimate ordination in Shantou).

The meeting with the dissident lawyer Mo Shaoping, known for defending some of the most famous activists of the country in court, was simply denied. According to the same Mo "I was not allowed to go to the German embassy, where I had been invited to the reception in honor of the Chancellor."

Some police, he adds, "Came into my office, and remained for three hours inside without legal justification." Mo, former defender of the Nobel Peace Laureate Liu Xiaobo, has stated that he had been invited by the German Embassy on Monday to discuss the situation of justice and lawyers in China with Merkel.

The visit that the Chancellor was to have made to the daily Nanfangzhoumo newspaper - The Southern Weekly – in Guangzhou city, considered critical of the Chinese government, was also blocked. In 2009, its director was fired after publishing an interview with U.S. President Obama during his state visit to the country.

German delegation sources stated that "the newspaper has cancelled the visit because the editorial department was too busy to receive Merkel." The same sources suggest that this decision was not voluntary. Before arriving in China, the Chancellor had granted a written interview in the same newspaper.

Much attention, however, was given to the economic aspects of the visit. After the controversy over "acquisition" of Europe by China, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday said he wanted to emphasize that Beijing "has no intention nor the ability to buy Europe", namely to invest massively in government bonds or holdings of the Old Continent to alleviate the debt crisis.

China, Wen said, "wants to cooperate with Europe to combat the current crisis, some people argue that this means that China wants to buy Europe but that does not correspond to reality: China has no such intention nor the ability to do so. "