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New World Order

DW staff (jp)September 11, 2008

During a visit from Chinese vice-premier Zhang Dejiang, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier stressed the need for maintaining dialogue between the two countries in the quest for a new world order.

China's Vice Prime Minister Zhang Dejiang, 2nd right, and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, left, stand among a group of Chinese trainees in an assembly hall as they visit the Airbus facilities in Hamburg,
Steinmeier and Zhang Dejiang, second from right, chose to stress the positiveImage: AP

Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang held talks in the port city of Hamburg with German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier on Wednesday, Sept. 10.

His visit to Germany is the first high-level visit since China's controversial crackdown in Tibet this year.

Both also toured the Airbus factory in the city where giant airliners are wired up and painted and attended the start of a two-day business meeting dubbed the Hamburg Summit, which is held every two years. This year's event is focusing on environmental issues.

Over the next two weeks, Hamburg will be holding cultural events marking the 22nd anniversary of its twin-city agreement with the Chinese city of Shanghai.

A German human rights group, the Society for Threatened Peoples, criticized Zhang's visit, charging that as a senior official he was associated with humans-rights breaches in Shanghai.

Earlier this year, the German media was critical of China's actions in Tibet and Steinmeier phoned Beijing to voice concerns and urge talks with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetans' spiritual leader.

A new world order

The Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama's visit to Germany earlier this year was controversialImage: AP

But in Hamburg this week, Steinmeier chose to stress China's progress. Speaking at the opening of the summit, he hailed the country's growing role on the international stage.

"We are seeking a new world order," he said. "New political and economic centers of powers are emerging, and China is one of them."

Without dialogue with these emerging nations, including Brazil, Russia and India as well as China, a new world order would be hard to establish, he went on.

Current problems such as the crisis in world trade talks and the increasing raw materials shortage need to be solved by international cooperation, he said.

Steinmeier also praised Germany's newly revived political ties to China after disagreements strained the relationship earlier this year. A meeting between Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Dalai Lama in Berlin angered the Chinese leading to a significant freeze in ties.

"Dialogue on human rights has been re-established and meetings between our governments are once again taking place," he said. He stressed the importance of continued dialogue, not least with respect to the Caucasus conflict.

For his part, Zhang Dejiang welcomed what he called "a new chapter in relations between China and the EU."

"China is a partner and not a rival," he said. "At this point, the partnership between China and the EU has reached a mature stage….current global crises can only be surmounted if we join forces."

Zhang is set to stay in Germany until Friday. Along with his political meetings, he is expected to visit companies including Volkswagen, Airbus, Thyssen-Krupp, BASF and Deutsche Bahn.