Angela Merkel arrives in China to talk trade

Merkel touched down early on Sunday in the southwestern city of Chengdu for the first day of a three-day visit. There she met local officials, visited a market and toured a factory operated by German car manufacturer Volkswagen.

Merkel is due to arrive in Beijing later on Sunday, where she will meet Premier Li Keqiang for dinner at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse.

She angered Beijing in 2007 by meeting Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, whom ruling Communist Party leaders consider a dangerous separatist.

But during the latest visit, any discussion of human rights is likely to take place behind closed doors, an approach that German officials have argued can be more effective in China than finger-wagging reprimands. In a commentary, China’s state-run Xinhua news agency on Sunday hailed Merkel’s trip.
‘It is fair to say that China-Germany relations are at their best in history, which have been strongly underpinned by the pragmatic cooperation between the two economic heavyweights,’ it said.

Chinese companies want Germany’s technology and millions of newly prosperous citizens crave German goods ranging from Audi sedans to luxury home appliances. Germany last year sold goods worth 67 billion euros ($91 billion) to China, its number-two export market outside Europe after the United States. Imports from the Asian powerhouse, meanwhile, topped 73 billion euros ($99 billion). Among the companies represented in Merkel’s delegation -- and eyeing deals that could further cement bilateral ties -- are Siemens, VW, Airbus, Lufthansa and Deutsche Bank, according to German media reports.

In Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, Mrs Merkel attended an urban forum with provincial Communist Party secretary Wang Dongming.

Merkel is expected to hold a joint press conference on Monday with Premier Li and will also attend the China-Germany Economic and Trade Commission before meeting President Xi Jinping.

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