(TibetanReview.net, Nov22, 2017) – China has sought to justify its under-20 soccer team’s move to stop playing a friendly match with a fourth-division host team in Mainz, Germany, on Nov 18, protesting against the display of flags suggesting Tibetan independence raised by spectators, saying that the country resolutely opposed any move by separatists. But Germany’s football governing body official has dismissed the Chinese protest as unmerited.
“China resolutely opposes any country, organization or individual to use any form or reason to support the activity of ‘Tibetan separatists,'” the official globaltimes.cn Nov 20 quoted the country’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang as saying at a daily briefing.
The match had resumed after a 25-minute delay after the Tibet activists were convinced to withdraw the flags.
“I have to stress that respect is what the host should pay for their guests and respect is mutual in any country,” Lu was quoted as saying.
The Chinese report claimed that Ronny Zimmermann, vice president of the Deutscher Fussball-Bund, German soccer’s governing body, had said he was disappointed by the protesters’ move.
However, German news service dw.com/en Nov 20 reported differently, saying Ronny Zimmerman suggested that China’s response was unmerited. “We cannot ban the protests, there is the right to freedom of expression here and certain rules apply.”
Zimmerman was further reported to have suggested, “As a guest, you should be able to handle it calmly and stand above such actions.”
However, the globaltimes.com report did cite a forbes.com report as saying Germany wanted to be good hosts to the Chinese side but insisted the games will be played “within the framework of freedom of expression”.
And it also cited Sun Jin, a Chinese professor who was in Germany for academic exchange activities, as saying separatist moves should not be protected by freedom of speech and the Chinese should take a zero-tolerance attitude toward such moves.
The dw.com/en report cited activists from the Tibet-Initiative Germany, which organized the protest at the match in Mainz, as saying they wanted to highlight the plight of Tibetans. “We want to draw attention to the unlawful and violent occupation of Tibet and the suppression of fundamental human rights,” it quoted one of the activists as having told the German Press Agency (dpa).