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Sunday, July 6, 2014, 12:30

Economy tops agenda of Merkel's visit to China

By Xinhua

Economy tops agenda of Merkel's visit to China

German Chancellor Angela Merkel addresses the Urbanisation Forum, kicking off her visit to China, in Chengdu, southwest China's Sichuan province on July 6, 2014. Merkel is in China for her seventh visit, eager to deepen trade and investment ties between the export powerhouses of Europe and Asia. (AFP)

BERLIN - Angela Merkel is paying another visit to China this weekend - her 7th trip to the Asian powerhouse as German Chancellor, leading a high-level economic delegation.

German analysts believed Merkel's trip is aimed at keeping the dynamic in the current Sino-German relations going further. Given that the bilateral economic relationship has quickly developed, economy is widely regarded as the focus of the chancellor's visit.

Frequently high-level exchanges

How much China means to Germany is obvious given the number of trips that Merkel has made to the country,German media commented.

In recent years, China and Germany have maintained frequent exchanges of high-level visits.

In March this year, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Berlin. This spring it was Germany's turn: Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel traveled to Beijing. In the fall, their Chinese counterparts are expected for intergovernmental talks in Berlin.

And now, Merkel is embarking on a three-day visit to China. No other European leader has met with the Chinese leadership as much as Merkel, German media said.

There is a certain dynamic in the Sino-German relations at the moment, and Merkel's current trip is aimed at keeping that momentum going, Sebastian Heilmann, President of the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) said in a recent interview with Deutsche Welle.

Heilmann believed the main focus of the talks during Merkel's visit will be the upcoming government consultations slated for October, which will cover issues ranging from technology to education and cultural programs.

Not all of those issues can be negotiated at a lower level, hence the importance of a meeting between the heads of state, the Chinese expert said.

Business high on the agenda

Economy is widely regarded as the focus of Merkel's China trip, based on an emerging "economic symbiosis" between China and Germany.

Currently, Germany is China's largest trading partner in Europe. The opposite: China is Germany's most important trading partner in Asia and a crucial market for German export goods.

The enormous growth of Sino-German economic relations lies in the fact that the two countries have complementary economies, Heilmann noted.

"Germany provides China with products it needs for industrialization, for example machines, specialty chemicals and electronic goods; On the other hand, Chinese consumer goods with very reasonable prices are in high demand in Germany," he added.

The investment cooperation between China and Germany is no longer a "one-way street". More and more Chinese companies are active internationally and investing in Germany. Heilmann believed the competition for Chinese investment between European countries will intensify in the future.

On her visit to China, which will last until Tuesday, Merkel is accompanied by a large business delegation,including top executives of Volkswagen, Siemens, Airbus, Deutsche Bank. A series of economic agreements are expected to be signed.

On Sunday, Merkel will begin her trip in Chengdu, the capital of China's southwestern Sichuan province.

Berlin has had a general consulate there for ten years, given that Chengdu is regarded by German companies as a springboard to the relatively underdeveloped western parts of China. About 160 German companies are now active in the area, among them a Volkswagen factory which the chancellor is set to visit.

German media also noticed that the recently founded Sino-German Advisory Committee on Economy will meet in Beijing for the first time, in the presence of Merkel and her Chinese counterpart, Li Keqiang.

The committee's aim is to identify trade problems between the two countries and make specific policy recommendations, which will then be analyzed by the respective governments, Heilmann told media.

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