Merkel Meets Bishop on Last Day of China Trip | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 23.05.2006
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Merkel Meets Bishop on Last Day of China Trip

On the final day of her trip to China, which has had a strong focus on religious and human rights, German Chancellor Angela Merkel met Tuesday with the Catholic Church's bishop of Shanghai.


Merkel said she was touched by the meeting with the bishop of Shanghai

The meeting struck a personal note for a visit that has also centered on trade issues between the two countries: Several new deals, including one for cooperation on building hundreds of new Chinese trains, had been signed on Monday.

Merkel spent a half-hour chatting with Aloysius Jin Luxian, the Bishop of Shanghai in the government-backed Catholic church. Jin reportedly said that the Roman Catholic church led by the Vatican has not officially recognized him as a bishop, but tolerates him.

One day after Merkel said she had pressed Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on religious freedoms and human rights, the 90-year-old Jin recounted his lengthy stints in Chinese jails and forced re-education camps.

"God is so good to me," he said as he showed Merkel Shanghai's cathedral. "I was in prison for such a long time, but He still gave me time to live."

Merkel told reporters she was touched by the encounter.

"The meeting was moving," she said. "The bishop knew a lot about me. He knew I was a Protestant."

Cautiously optimistic about huma n rights

Angela Merkel in China bei Hu Jintao

Merkel with Chinese President Hu Jintao

Merkel also raised her concerns over China's curbs on the Internet and the situation in Tibet during meetings with the nation's leaders on Monday, and on Tuesday gave a cautiously optimistic assessment of the human rights situation.

"I think the Chinese government listens very carefully to the topic of human rights," Merkel said Tuesday. "We must hold more talks. We have to be speaking the same language both at home and in China when it comes to human rights."

Merkel's trip to China, her first since becoming chancellor last year, has otherwise been dominated by economic and trade discussions.

Deals o n property rights, trai n cooperatio n

Kleiderfabrik in Vietnam

Garment production in China

The two nations inked deals on intellectual property rights, telecommunications and other sectors on Monday, with the deal on train cooperation possibly worth as much as 300 million euros ($383.3 million) for Germany's Siemens.

China and Germany also signed an accord that bans Chinese garment manufacturers who use counterfeit fabrics from taking part in German trade exhibitions and fashion shows.

No progress o n Maglev exte n sio n

Although they agreed to cooperate on building new Chinese trains, they hit a stumbling block on a deal to extend China's high-speed magnetic levitation train network.

The consortium of German industrial giants ThyssenKrupp AG and Siemens built the current magnetically levitated (Maglev) train in Shanghai, the only such space-age commercial rail line in the world.

The trains, which travel at speeds up to 430 kilometers (270 miles) per hour, currently run 30 kilometers from Shanghai's Pudong airport to the city's financial district.

Angela Merkel in China in Schanghai Transrapid

Merkel walks to board the world's only commercially operating Maglev railway

In March, China and Germany agreed to a preliminary deal that would extend the current line from the airport to the neighboring city of Hangzhou -- a 170-kilometer route at a reported cost of over $4 billion.

China had been pushing for a final arrangement and hoped to sign it during Merkel's trip, German officials said. But Germany has not been happy with some of the conditions --

notably the technology transfers being demanded by the Chinese, they said.

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