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China seeks to allay German automakers' concerns during Gabriel visit

China has tried to quell the concerns of German automakers following Beijing's plans to impose quotas on electric car production. China's premier has also encouraged Germany to push forward with liberalization in trade.

China rejected German concerns on Wednesday about market barriers and protectionism in the country's growing electric car market during German Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel's visit.

China's Minister for Industry and Information Technology Miao Wei emphasized that German carmakers that produce vehicles in China will be treated the same as Chinese companies, Gabriel said on Wednesday following a meeting with Miao.

Miao said German carmakers' fears of being shut out of China's plans for new drive technology were unfounded. Gabriel told reporters, "He said it isn't so."

In a further effort to encourage German businesses in China, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Beijing and Berlin will push forward with liberalization in trade and investment, as well as oppose protectionism.

The comments were made on Tuesday during a meeting with Gabriel but were released in a statement on Wednesday.

Watch video 01:30

Investment no one-way street, says Germany

Electric car unease

China's plans to impose quotas in 2018 on automotive companies to produce electric cars triggered uncertainty in the German auto sector, which has a strong market presence.

The Volkswagen group currently sells around 3 million cars per year in the Chinese market, and would have to sell 60,000 electric vehicles to meet the 2018 quota.

BMW electric car sales in China also currently fall short of the quota. In 2016, the Bavarian automaker has sold a total of 380,000 cars, of which only 1,200 were electric.

German carmakers were concerned that the quota would overly benefit Chinese companies and that they would have to compete with unfair competition.

"It is important that we make it clear that we need fair investment conditions for our German companies," emphasized Gabriel during the press conference.

Meeting with activists

Also in Beijing on Wednesday, Gabriel met with activists and intellectuals to discuss the human rights situation in China, German news agency dpa reported. He spoke with human rights lawyer Shang Baojun, who represented DW journalist Gao Yu

Gabriel has talks scheduled in Chengdu and Hong Kong, where he is set to open the Asia-Pacific Conference of German Business on Thursday before returning home on Saturday.

Watch video 01:53

China's new e-car quota shocks automakers

rs/sms (dpa, Reuters)

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