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China's Li visits Berlin

May 27, 2013

China's new premier Li Keqiang has held talks with leading German parliamentarians on the final day of his Berlin visit. Simmering trade tensions between the EU and China have taken center stage during Li's two-day trip.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang review a guard of honour during a welcome ceremony at the Chancellery in Berlin (Photo via Reuters)
Image: Reuters

The Chinese premier kicked off a schedule on Monday with breakfast talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Next stop was a Berlin hotel where Li met the leader of Germany's opposition Social Democrats (SPD), Sigmar Gabriel, and the party's national election candidate, Peer Steinbruck.

Talks with Economy Minister Philipp Rösler are expected to dominate much of Monday afternoon, followed by a meeting with 94-year-old ex-Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. In April Schmidt published his newest book on China entitled "Ein letzter Besuch" ("A final visit").

Germany is the only member of the 27-nation European Union to be visited by Li on his maiden foreign trip, which began last week in India.

Merkel has sought to use his visit to quell the onset of a brewing trade war between the European Union and China.

Li had sharply criticized the European Commission - while visiting Switzerland on Friday - over its intention to probe China's telecommunications products and impose a 47 percent average tax on imported Chinese solar panels, according to the text of a speech released by China's official news agency Xinhua.

It quoted Li as saying the anti-dumping investigation on solar panels could lead to protectionism.

Merkel on Sunday said "protectionism is no answer." She said that Germany would do its utmost to seek "intensive" talks between the EU and China to avoid permanent tariff strife.

"I respect your stance," she told Li, who replied that China preferred negotiations and hoped that the eurozone nations would soon resolve their financial problems.

This was also important for both Chinese and world-wide developments, Li said.

Growing trade links

Trade between Germany and China reached around 144 billion euros ($185.7 billion) in 2012, according to official German data.

German motor vehicles and auto parts, machinery and electrical goods have a vast export market in China, the world's second-largest economy. China, on the other hand, utilizes technology from Germany. More than half of its solar panel output is exported to Europe.

ccp, ipj/kms (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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