Germany's Merkel begins visit, eyeing 20 deals
Updated: 2006-05-22 08:36 German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Beijing
on a trip in which she will sign up to 20 business agreements, and she is also
expected to persuade China to assume a greater role on the world arena.
Angela Merkel receives flowers from an unidentified Chinese woman upon her
arrival at the airport of China's capital Beijing May 21, 2006. Merkel is
on an official two-day visit to China.
Merkel arrived in Beijing Sunday
night on her first visit to China since she took office replacing Gerhard
Schroeder six months ago. Merkel, 51, is scheduled to meet Chinese President Hu
Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao today.
Merkel will seek to persuade her hosts to match China's growing economic
clout with a greater diplomatic presence, German officials said. "The economic
role of China has grown and so has its responsibility on the international
stage. Based on its economic position, China must take on more
responsibilities," said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Specifically, Germany would like to see China involved more closely in the
international efforts to solve the nuclear crisis in Iran. China and Russia,
both as permanent member of the powerful UN Security Council, have said that
they are against the use of force or economic sanctions against Iran.
Merkel's delegation, which comprises senior officials including Economy
Minister Michael Glos, Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee and a delegation of
40 executives from companies such as Siemens and Lufthansa, indicates the
economic importance of her trip.
China is Germany's biggest trading partner in Asia.
ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao used a regular briefing last week to signal the
economic importance that Beijing attached to the trip.
"Germany has been an important partner for China in trade, the trade volume
between the sides registered US$63.2 billion in 2005, accounting for one third
of the trade volume between China and the European Union," Liu said.
"There has been extensive cooperation between China and Germany in various
fields, including trade and commerce, culture, sports, science and technology
and environment protection."