Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder criticized his successor Angela Merkel Thursday for meeting with the Dalai Lama recently and hoped the present government would mend its way.
"Some recent situations have hurt Chinese people's feelings, and I regret it," Schroeder told China Daily on the sidelines of a seminar on China's development and world harmony.
"I am not happy with some of our government's recent moves," he said.
Addressing a gathering during the seminar's lunch break, Schroeder said Chancellor Merkel "committed a mistake" by meeting the Dalai Lama.
Respecting each other's concern for sovereignty and territorial integrity is the core of Sino-German relationship, which both sides describe as "a strategic partnership".
"My predecessors and I refused to meet with the Dalai Lama because of this consideration, and I hope the incumbent government will adhere to it, too."
China protested strongly against Merkel's meeting with the Dalai Lama in September, saying it would "seriously damage" bilateral ties.
But Schroeder said he was confident that Sino-German ties would weather the storm and be on the right track.
"I believe the Merkel administration is very willing to further the good relations with China and I believe she still adheres to the one-China policy."
China and Germany should "look forward" despite the discord, he said, and the high-level exchanges should be maintained by Beijing and Berlin. "The importance of Sino-German ties is beyond skeptics despite the recent problems."
Schroeder said he was happy to see China's economy grow even if it is likely to cross Germany as the world's third largest by the end of this year.
"China has 1.3 billion people, whereas Germany has about 82 million," he said. "There is no cause for panic if China's economy surpasses Germany's."
China's boom is an opportunity because it will create greater demand for Germany's hallmark high-end industrial products, he said.
A relaxed man
Asked how he feels after being relieved of Germany's top job, Schroeder said he felt more at ease now and spent more time with his family.
"When I was chancellor, every day I had to ensure that everything with the government was running smoothly," he said.
"Now I don't have to worry about these things any more."
The former chancellor is now head of Northern European Gas Pipeline's advisory board and an advisor to French investment bank Rothschild.
"I dreamed of two vocations in my life. One is to be a politician in a high position that I have been, and the other is to be a lawyer, which I am working as now," said Schroeder.
"I think I am a blissful man."