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German cabinet members, business leaders in China

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, with seven of her cabinet ministers in tow, is in China for talks with Beijing officials. It is the second such trip to China by a German delegation this year.

The two-day visit of the German delegation is also the second of the year to be led by Merkel. Joining the chancellor and the ministers are a group of business executives expected to sign a number of deals during the trip.

Merkel is scheduled to meet with Chinese Premiere Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao on Thursday. China's role in the eurozone debt crisis and the approaching change of government in China are likely topics on the agenda.

The German ministers in Beijing will also hold talks with their Chinese counterparts.

Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, who is among the cabinet members who made the journey, spoke of the strong ties between Germany and China.

"For us, China is one of the formative powers of the twenty-first century," he said after landing in Beijing. "The fact that we are holding government consultations for the second time and that half the cabinet flew half-way around the world reflects the exceptional breadth and depth of our relationship."

He added that in October, Germany would open its fifth general consulate in China in the city of Shenyang.

Westerwelle also addressed China's role in the Syria conflict.

"We expect that China's readiness to send a clear message with us to the Assad regime will grow," he said.

China has joined Russia in blocking efforts by the United Nations Security Council to pass resolutions that would enable further action on the international level.

mz/mr (Reuters, AFP, dpa)