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Govt scared of upsetting China: Opposition

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 21/10/2016

Labour and the Greens are criticising ministers for refusing to meet Hong Kong independence activists, saying they were afraid of upsetting China.

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English cancelled a meeting with Anson Chan and Martin Lee, citing "urgent business".

It's since been revealed his office was told a meeting would be diplomatically sensitive because Foreign Minister Murray McCully was in Beijing at the time.

The activists failed to get a meeting with any other minister.

Labour's foreign affairs spokesman, David Shearer, says he met them despite Chinese pressure.

"They expressed some concern about these two coming to New Zealand and me meeting with them," he told RNZ.

"Before they could say anything more I pointed out that I was going to meet them and I wasn't going to cancel ... and that seemed to be fine by the Chinese."

The Green Party's global affairs spokesman, Kennedy Graham, also met the activists and says the government's decision was short-sighted.

"We are running scared of whatever Beijing might think," he said.

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