Germany's economy minister has begun a two-day trip to China with a pledge to expand bilateral cooperation in digital technology. Both countries are hoping to become leading players in this emerging field.
Shortly after arriving in Beijing on Tuesday, Economy Minister and Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel signed a letter of intent to step up cooperation with China in the development of industrial digital technology.
China's minister for industry and information technology, Miao Wei, also signed the agreement on "intelligent manufacturing" or "Industry 4.0," which is based on the concepts of the "Internet of Things" and the "Internet of Services."
"We intend to breathe life into the innovation partnership agreed with China in 2014," Gabriel said at the signing ceremony, referring to Chancellor Angela Merkel's most recent trip to China a year ago.
Miao spoke of a new phase of industrial cooperation between the two trading partners.
Industry 4.0 is set to be one of the key topics of discussion for Gabriel during his two days of talks in Beijing, in which he is also scheduled to meet with Trade Minister Gao Hucheng, as well as the chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, Xu Shaoshi.
During his talks, Gabriel is expected to push for better access to the Chinese market for German companies, as well as the security of their investments.
While China is a vast emerging market that many foreign companies are keen to tap into, there are ongoing concerns about data security as well as the reliability and speed of the Internet there.
A couple of pieces of legislation, a recently approved sweeping national security law, and a planned cyber-security law have caused particular concern.
The cyber-security law would allow Chinese authorities to shut down the Internet "in some regions" in the event of a security breach, according to state-run media.
Among the other topics of discussion were expected to be the Greek debt crisis and the recent turbulence on China's main stock markets.
pfd/msh (dpa, Reuters)