Economic and political ties between Germany and China have been on shaky ground since the Dalai Lama's visit to Germany last year. But now, with the German foreign minister in Beijing, things seemed to have improved.
They may not see eye to eye on everything, but that hasn't kept them from normalizing ties
Relations between China and Germany have normalized, China's Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told reporters on Friday, June 13, in Beijing.
"Recently China-Germany relations have already moved onto a track of normal development," he said, calling German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier's visit a "major event in China-Germany relations."
The foreign ministers are all smiles
Steinmeier said that China and Germany would restart discussions on key global issues, such as conflict prevention in Africa and climate change, which had been suspended as a result of the Dalai Lama's visit to Germany. China has been criticized in the West for not taking advantage of its influence in Sudan to press for an end to violence in Darfur.
"We will resume the interrupted strategic dialogue in the second half of the year," said Steinmeier, who is seen as a potential future candidate for chancellor.
During a meeting with Steinmeier, China's Premier Wen Jiabao said the perception of China in Germany had recently improved and gave assurances that the political situation in his country was stable.
Germany promises 8 schools for quake-hit region
The foreign minister pledged reconstruction aid to the earthquake-hit region of Sichuan in south-western China and said that Germany would help build eight schools in the area.
In thanking Steinmeier, Premier Wen said the contributions were a sign of a deep friendship between the countries.
Steinmeier is scheduled to visit the Sichuan province on the weekend. There he will meet with German aid workers who are helping the survivors of the quake, which left more than 86,000 people dead or missing.
Dalai Lama visit forgiven and forgotten
The foreign minister has distanced himself from German Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to meet with the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, in Berlin last September. He has since been at the forefront of efforts to repair strained relations with China and refused to meet with the Dalai Lama when he returned to Germany last month.
Merkel's meeting with the Dalai Lama had political consequences
However, on Friday Steinmeier said he hoped the dialogue between China and representatives of the Dalai Lama would continue. He added that it was important to Germany that progress is made in preserving Tibetan culture and religion.
Steinmeier has also been less vocal about China's human rights record than the chancellor and has typically favored quiet diplomacy in China's conflict with Tibet.
Although the Dalai Lama has repeatedly said he does not advocate self-rule for Tibet, an autonomous Chinese province, China believes that he is trying to achieve independence and condemns on political grounds all foreign politicians who meet with him.
Anger over Merkel's meeting with the Dalai Lama drove a wedge between the countries, which have established growing trade ties in recent years as the world's top two exporters of goods.