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Europe

Germany and China Discuss Economy and Tibet

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met Chancellor Merkel Thursday, Jan. 29, for talks focused mainly on the financial crisis and exports, but Merkel didn't miss the opportunity to discuss Tibet.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao

Merkel is one of the few world leaders to successfully hold talks on Tibet with Wen

Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel appealed Thursday to Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to resume Beijing's talks with envoys of the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader.

"Germany has an intense interest in the talks with the Dalai Lama resuming," Merkel told reporters after initial discussions with Wen.

She said Germany was willing to make a "constructive contribution" on the matter, adding that Germany did not question the one-China policy.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel with the Dalai Lama

China was very angry with Germany when Chancellor Merkel met with the Dalai Lama in 2007

About 60 Tibetan demonstrators outside Merkel's office shouted and waved flags and placards as Wen's motorcade arrived for the ceremony. They asked Merkel to press Wen to engage in full talks with the Dalai Lama.

Relations between Germany and China have improved since a spat in 2007 when Merkel met the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, at her office in Berlin. That meeting prompted Beijing to suspend a "dialogue" with Germany on the rule of law which only recently resumed.

Improved economic relations

Wen told journalists there had been broad agreement in his talks with Merkel and her ministers which dealt with the global economic slump and financial crisis.

The two leaders said they agreed that protectionism must not be the answer to national economic troubles and pledged closer coordination on economic, trade, monetary and finance policy.

The two sides also signed a memorandum of understanding on climate protection with greater cooperation on energy, research and technology.

"My visit to Germany puts me in a good mood," Wen told reporters.

One of the technologies which China agreed to buy Thursday was the German design work for the Transrapid, a magnetic-levitation railway system which already operates in Shanghai and which China aims to expand.

Minister praises progress on human rights

The chancellor held talks with the Chinese premier when she visited China in October last year to take part in the biannual Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in Beijing.

Chinese goods waiting to be processed in Antwerp

Each year sees tons of Chinese goods arriving in the EU

On Wednesday, Germany's justice minister praised Beijing's "irreversible" progress on human rights and the rule of law.

"The Chinese are taking their own path, their so-called Chinese third way. I think we should respect that. We can't just say to them, you have to behave like us," Brigitte Zypries said in an interview on Suedwestrundfunk radio.

"But gradually there is movement towards introducing legal standards, and the resulting changes in society and the political system are happening slowly but they are taking place," the centre-left minister said. "I believe that (this progress) is irreversible for China," she added.

"Beijing wants to work with Europe"

Germany is the second stage of a European tour that took Wen to Switzerland and the World Economic Forum in Davos.

This week, Wen is also scheduled to visit Spain and Britain. On Friday, he will head a high-level Chinese delegation to Brussels to meet European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and other EU commissioners in a bid to heal strained political ties with the 27-nation bloc.

Earlier this week, Wen said Beijing is ready to work together with Europe to restore confidence in the faltering global financial system.

Both China and the EU are heavily reliant on each other for trade, business and investment. The EU is China's largest trading partner, whereas China is the EU's second-largest after the United States.

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