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  • Home > News > Details
    Merkel visit amid mixed expectations

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel embarked on her seventh visit to China since she took office in 2005. On her agenda are meetings in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, and Beijing and a mix of economic, political and cultural activities. Apart from meeting President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing on July 7, Merkel will also hold talks with Zhang Dejiang, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress.

    Relations between China and Germany have been amicable lately, and both sides are interested in keeping it that way. Bilateral economic relations are sound and political issues have taken the backseat. Keeping in mind that only three months ago, during Xi's visit to Germany, bilateral ties, established in 1972, were upgraded to a "comprehensive strategic partnership", no landmark political agreements should be expected.

    According to a statement by the German government, regional and international politics are on the table. However, with no concrete topics of discussion announced so far, it remains to be seen whether sensitive issues such as Japan's recent reinterpretation of Article 9 of its Constitution or the protests in Hong Kong will be raised. Merkel could raise the Ukraine crisis, though, an issue that Xi was not keen to engage in during his visit to Germany in late March. Considering the recent $400-billion Sino-Russian gas deal, it is unlikely that Xi's reservation will have changed.

    Yet the main focus of the visit is business. Along with Li, Merkel will participate in the inauguration of the high-level German-Chinese Advisory Economic Committee in Beijing. Xi's visit to Germany in March led to the signing of several large-scale deals, among them with Siemens, Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler and Air Berlin, Germany's largest airline after Lufthansa. German recycling company Alba signed a memorandum of understanding with the city of Jieyang, Guangdong province, in March to cooperate in recycling.

    It is therefore no surprise that German tabloid Bild reported that apart from several members of different parties across the German Bundestag, Merkel's delegation once again will include chief executives from Siemens, Volkswagen, Airbus, Deutsche Bank, Lufthansa and Alba.

    During her first part of the trip to Chengdu, Merkel visited the local Volkswagen factory, one of 17 in China. Volkswagen has said that it plans to invest about 150 billion yuan ($24.17 billion) in China by the end of 2018. Following China's "Go-West" strategy, German companies have expanded their geographical area of activity with many of them having set up shop around Chengdu and Chongqing. The German Chamber of Commerce office in Chengdu, the first of its kind in West China, was opened in September 2011. This trend is reinforced by Merkel's choice of Chengdu as the first stop on her trip to China.

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