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Li touts Sino-German ties

By Fu Jing in Berlin | China Daily | Updated: 2013-05-28 08:08

Li touts Sino-German ties

Premier Li Keqiang and German Chancellor Angela Merkel address a news conference after talks in Berlin on Sunday. Tobias Schwarz / Reutrs

Premier Li Keqiang has invited German Chancellor Angela Merkel to visit Beijing as soon as possible and said China and Germany should "shift into high gear" to promote their relations, which he said are already in the "fast lane".

Li also said both countries should work hard together to become "pacemakers" in Sino-EU relations, which have been affected by Brussels' mounting pressure for trade protectionism.

"I had a very fruitful meeting with Chancellor Merkel, and we have reached a significant consensus on deepening the Sino-German strategic partnership, while discussing the roadmap and priorities of bilateral ties," Li said at a news conference after meeting with Merkel on Sunday.

"Our bilateral relations are already in the fast lane. We need to shift into high gear and move them into a fast-development period."

Li has agreed to return to Berlin in 2014 to co-chair with Merkel a "governmental consultation" meeting, the highest level of strategic dialogue that China has set up with Western powers. This mechanism was set up by then-premier Wen Jiabao and Merkel.

With an invitation to Merkel to visit "China as soon as possible", which was stated in the communique after the meeting, Beijing and Berlin have re-endorsed the mechanism of annual mutual visits. Analysts say Merkel's upcoming visit to Beijing is likely to gain more support in Germany for her re-election bid as chancellor in September.

After witnessing the signing ceremony of 17 cooperation contracts with Li, Merkel said the premier's visit to Germany during his first overseas tour as premier has highlighted the significance of their nations' partnership.

She said that she and Li have agreed to expand cooperation on trade and the economy, agriculture, urbanization and people-to-people exchanges, and to continually promote dialogues in various sectors.

"We are willing to cooperate with the Chinese side to boost bilateral relations in the new era," Merkel said.

Merkel has already shown her intention to improve relations with the Chinese premier. In addition to her Sunday meeting with Li, Merkel had dinner on Sunday and breakfast on Monday morning with Li, occasions for both leaders to have more intensive, open and private discussions on the issues of bilateral, regional and global relations.

"One German official has told Li that Germany should keep its door open so it can benefit from the new global economic cycle," said one source who declined to be named.

The source said the official warned of rising protectionism from Brussels.

Li also said his visit, the last leg of his four-country tour, has sent a strong message that China wants to develop Sino-EU relations, especially with this year being the 10th anniversary of the "comprehensive strategic partnership."

Leaders of Brussels and Beijing are scheduled to have a summit in the second half of this year to review the relations. And in June, the two countries will have a strategic dialogue in Brussels.

"Sino-German relations have a great impact on Sino-EU relations and global development," the premier said.

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