The Chinese government said on Tuesday that it has retracted a controversial plan to buy a defunct German plutonium plant. The German government didn't want to comment, but Green Party politicians welcomed the move.
Environmentalists protested against the sale.
Many members of the Greens, the junior coalition partner in the German government, opposed the plan for the sale ever since it became public during German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's visit to China last December.
They objected to the €50 million ($59.4 million) deal because they said China could use the plant to produce weapons grade plutonium. China had denied planning to use the plant in the production of nuclear weapons.
"We're happy about the Chinese decision," Greens party co-chairs Reinhard Bütikofer and Angelika Beer said after hearing about Beijing's change of heart. Their party colleague and Germany's foreign minister, Joschka Fischer, appeared more diplomatic, however.
"We haven't completed the process," Fischer told reporters, referring to the internal government review of the sale that has been going on for months. The government apparently is continuing to investigate the sale despite the Chinese announcement.
The Hanau plutonium plant
Earlier a spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry had said that Chinese companies had cancelled negotiations with German technology giant Siemens, the owner of the disassembled plant in Hanau near Frankfurt. The spokesperson added that he didn't expect the issue to come up during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's trip to Germany next week. A Siemens spokesperson declined to comment on the matter, saying that the company would wait until the German government had completed its review.