The Latest: Merkel in China says HK freedoms should be safe

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Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, left, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel inspect an honor guard during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Friday, Sept. 6, 2019. Merkel arrived Friday in Beijing, where she faces the challenge of balancing human rights concerns and economic discussions with one of Germany’s largest trading partners. (Roman Pilipey/Pool Photo via AP)

BEIJING (AP) — The Latest on German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Beijing (all times local):

3 p.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says the rights and freedoms of Hong Kong residents should be protected and a solution to the Chinese city’s political crisis can only be garnered through dialogue while violence should be avoided.

Merkel spoke at a news conference in Beijing on Friday alongside Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

The German leader says she indicated during her talks with him “that the rights and freedoms agreed upon in Hong Kong’s Basic Law should be safeguarded.” The Basic Law is Hong Kong’s de facto constitution, which promises the semi-autonomous territory certain democratic rights not afforded to the mainland.

Merkel added that political dialogue — not violence — is the path toward a resolution.

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11 a.m.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has arrived in Beijing, where she faces the challenge of balancing human rights concerns and economic discussions with one of Germany’s largest trading partners.

Merkel is meeting Friday morning with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and will dine with President Xi Jinping in the evening.

China was Germany’s biggest single trading partner last year, with trade totaling 199 billion euros ($218 billion). The relationship is important to Europe’s largest economy, particularly as Germany is considered likely to enter a technical recession in the current quarter.

The economic ties make it harder for Merkel to satisfy a U.S. diplomat and activists who have urged her to raise human rights issues such as China’s treatment of ethnic minorities and Hong Kong’s three months of pro-democracy demonstrations.

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