Following talks Wednesday, Germany's foreign minister said he extracted a pledge from China to get tougher on copyright infringement. China has also indicated a harder line on Iran.
Germany and China plan a "strategic dialogue"
The question of copyright infringement is one of the West's biggest concerns about investing in China.
So when German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Wednesday won a pledge from his Chinese counterpart to work harder at stemming the problem, the group of executives accompanying him must have breathed a sigh of relief.
"The continuation of our economic relations must take place in a reliable environment," Steinmeier said at a news conference in Peking during his first state trip to China.
Copyright concerns have grown in the past week following the announcement by a Chinese company that it will build a magnetic levitation train to compete with the one Siemens runs in Shanghai. Though no one accused the Chinese of stealing the technology from Siemens, European companies have often encountered outright theft when it comes to their technology patents.
China issues strong Iran statement
Li Zhaoxing's promise will be part of the discussion in a new bilateral commission created to encourage "strategic dialogue" between the two countries announced on Wednesday. Also part of the future dialogue would be China's human rights situation, which Steinmeier only briefly touched on, and China's immense dependency on raw materials.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Li Zhaoxing
Steinmeier was unable to get as much commitment on the question of Iran's nuclear program. Should all diplomatic avenues shut down, the US and EU-3 support referring the matter of Iran's nuclear program to the UN Security Council where they would seek economic sanctions against the Islamic republic. A Russian and Chinese veto stand in the way.
Earlier this week, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman issued the country's strongest statement yet on Iran -- urging Teheran to once again suspend uranium-enriching activities it had taken up in January, defying the international community.
On Wednesday, Li appealed for a diplomatic solution but said that China would not rush in deciding how to best deal with Iran. He said they would wait until the report by the International Atomic Energy Association at the beginning of March.
Merkel will visit in May
"We have to use this time," he said. Steinmeier, in Japan on Tuesday, did not rule out the possibility of sanctions.
The repeal of the EU weapon's embargo on China -- a favorite demand by Steinmeier's former boss, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder -- is not supported by Merkel's government. But China said it will continue to press Germany for its support.
The next opportunity? Chancellor Angela Merkel's first visit, agreed on by both governments, on May 22 and 23.