Merkel Visit

Germany and China Talk Honestly

Merkel-Xi Jinping guido bergmann-dpa-DISTORTED
Chancellor Angela Merkel met with a number of Chinese officials, including President Xi Jinping.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    China is one of Germany’s most important trading partner and it is important both countries manage to thrash out issues that hamper cooperation.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • Chancellor Angela Merkel is on her ninth visit to China.
    • This visit has been marked by frank, open debate that would previously have been considered undiplomatic.
    • China is calling for market economy status that will give it easier access to European markets.
  • Audio

    Audio

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The talks between Germany and China have been unprecedented in their frankness.  Chancellor Angela Merkel and the German business sector spoke openly in Beijing about what they perceive are difficulties in dealing with China. So is Chinese Premier  Li Keqiang.

There is no need to worry that these frank exchanges could harm relations between the two countries. Quite the contrary: This new sincerity signals progress.

Usually Ms. Merkel’s China trips follow a set pattern. In The Great Hall of the People in Beijing, the chancellor and her Chinese hosts shower each other with fulsome praise. Criticism is articulated – if at all – tentatively and with care to maintain a spirit of harmony. Nothing should be allowed to stand in the way of the much-trumpeted partnership between Beijing and Berlin. All smiles and handshakes and then on to the next port of call.

But Ms. Merkel’s ninth visit to Beijing was different. Shortly after her arrival in the Chinese capital, the chancellor was awarded an honorary doctorate. Germany’s head of government made use of her thank-you speech to admonish the lack of access to markets and legal safeguards in China. An ill-mannered guest?  No, just a chancellor who knows what she wants.

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