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Merkel wraps up China trip, expresses concern about human rights

February 6, 2012

http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,15718363,00.html

04.02.2012

The German chancellor wrapped up her trip to China on Saturday, expressing optimism about her country's relations with Beijing while regretting the state of human rights in East Asia's economic and political powerhouse.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday that her country's relations with China had improved during three days of high-level bilateral talks, but expressed regret that Beijing had forbid a prominent civil rights activist from meeting with her.

The trip focused on trade relations and Chinese financial support for Europe amid the eurozone debt crisis. Merkel, however, said that she did raise the issue human rights conditions in China.

"We spoke about the overall situation of human rights," Merkel said. "The issue of Tibet also came up as one of many subjects that certainly gave us concern."

The German delegation handed over a list of 20 cases of persecuted civil rights activists. Merkel said she regretted that lawyer Mo Shaoping, who has defended dissidents in China, was prevented by Beijing from meeting with her in the German embassy.

"I think a country such as China, with such vitality and growth dynamics, should also trust that people are needed to strengthen civil society with their vitality and force of conviction," the German chancellor said.

'Growth Engines'

Chinese state media said that Merkel's discussions with their country's leadership - which included Premier Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao - had shown that "the world's two growth engines stand jointly at the head of the fight against recession."

Premier Wen had said that China was considering contributing to the eurozone rescue fund, but did not give a financial sum.

"What is new is that China is wiling to assist in a supporting capacity with the European rescue mechanisms," Merkel said.

The German chancellor also stumped for Chinese investments and assured Beijing that companies from China had full access to the German and European markets.

"However in return we expect the same conditions of access as Chinese companies have in the Chinese market," Merkel said.

Premier Wen estimated that Germany and China's bilateral trade would grow to $200 billion (152 billion euros) this year, up from $169 billion in 2011.
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