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Germany rolls out red carpet

Updated: 2013-05-23 07:30
By Fu Jing in Brussels ( China Daily)

Berlin is "making special arrangements" to welcome Premier Li Keqiang during his upcoming visit to show the European power's determination to deepen strategic relations with the world's second-biggest economy, Shi Mingde, the Chinese ambassador to Germany, told China Daily before Li's visit.

Li, who is on his first tour to Europe since taking office, will take advantage of this visit to beef up political trust, set up better "work and personal contacts" with German leaders, prioritize cooperation opportunities, and inject impetus and vigor into the bilateral strategic partnership.

"Germany has offered to make special arrangements for Li's visit," Shi said.

Sources in Berlin indicate that Angela Merkel has taken a personal interest in finalizing the detailed agenda for talks with the Chinese premier. And indications are that the German chancellor will receive Li at the Meseberg Palace, north of Berlin, as part of her efforts to boost bilateral ties and maintain good ties with China.

Rare courtesy

Merkel met then-premier Wen Jiabao at the same venue in 2010. Such courtesies on the part of the German chancellor are supposed to be a rare honor and something that is seldom extended to other European or global leaders.

"During the visit, Premier Li will send important messages on China's development, Sino-German and Sino-European relations," Shi said.

Shi said Li will also use the visit as an opportunity to communicate with the world the new ruling concepts and ideas of China's leadership.

Merkel, who telephoned Li shortly after he was endorsed as premier in March during the annual legislative session, was the first foreign leader to congratulate him. Shi also said China and Germany will sign a series of cooperation agreements and economic contracts, but the details were still being finalized by press time.

China's new leadership has attached great importance to the relations with European countries. Just before Li's departure on his four-country tour to India, Pakistan, Switzerland and Germany, Li held talks with visiting Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, pledging to participate in the radical privatization of the state assets in this hard-hit country of European sovereignty debts.

Signing multibillion-dollar orders with Beijing, French President Francois Hollande, in China in April, was the first state head of a Western power to visit China after the country's new leadership was installed.

As a veteran diplomat who has worked in Germany for years and also as former ambassador to Austria, Shi said the Chinese government knows well the important role of Germany in European affairs and European Union integration.

"We have long attached great importance to Sino-EU and Sino-Germany relations and I think Li will further emphasize China's consistent foreign policy this time," Shi said.

"Germany is one of the most important EU member states, and it has played a big role in European and international affairs." Shi said that Europe is still mired in a severe economic recession and its integration process has been faced with huge challenges. "No matter in the past, now or in the future, China is determined to support the EU's efforts in the integration progress and fighting the European sovereignty debt crisis and economic recession," Shi said.

Regarding the current solar panel dispute, which involved China's exports worth about $21 billion, Shi said the Chinese premier will send a clear message that he expects to hold equal dialogues to solve trade frictions and fend off trade protectionism.

"This is crucial to cope with unfolding European sovereignty debt crisis and achieve a win-win situation and mutual development," Shi said.