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Economics and Tibet

DW staff (sp, mrm)January 29, 2009

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 WenImage: AP

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.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel with the Dalai Lama
China was very angry with Germany when Chancellor Merkel met with the Dalai Lama in 2007Image: AP

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

About 50 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.

The mood at Thursday's meeting was conciliatory. The Chinese premier said of his visit to the German capital, scheduled to last less than 20 hours, that the leaders "exchanged opinions in an open and honest atmosphere."

Wen described the thaw in relations saying, "After a cold winter, spring brings with it a relationship we can be proud of."

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.

"Beijing wants to work with Europe"

Chinese goods waiting to be processed in Antwerp
Each year sees tons of Chinese goods arriving in the EUImage: AP

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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