China backs German UN role
6 December 2004 , BEIJING - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder met with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Monday with Beijing giving Germany its backing for its quest for a seat on an expanded United Nations' Security Council as part of plans for reforming the UN.
6 December 2004
BEIJING - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder met with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Monday with Beijing giving Germany its backing for its quest for a seat on an expanded United Nations' Security Council as part of plans for reforming the UN.
Wen gave Schroeder China's backing for a German role in an enlarged United Nations Security Council, German officials said. "China supports Germany playing a proper role in the UN Security Council," the officials quoted him as saying.
It was Schroeder's sixth visit to China since winning power in September 1998 with the two sides marking the deepening relationship between Europe's biggest economy and the new Asian economic superpower by signing several major economic agreements.
In all 22 economic and political agreements worth some EUR 1.4 billion were signed, including an agreement for China to buy 23 Airbus A319, A320 and A321 aircraft.
But a key part of the talks between the leaders also focused on Iraq and reform of the Security Council, the UN's key decision-making body, with a plunging dollar also overhanging the Schroeder visit to China and Asia.
After China, Schroeder is to travel to Japan. Both the euro and the yen have raced ahead on forex markets as the dollar has fallen raising worries about the European and Japanese export machines.
A big question will be whether Schroeder is be able to draw Tokyo and Beijing in behind his campaign to press Washington to take a more active role in shoring up the dollar against the yen and the euro.
At the same time, Germany wants China to help ease upward pressure on the euro by releasing the yuan from its US dollar peg.
The fixed rate yuan has helped the euro rise to record highs against the dollar this year and European officials believe freeing up the yuan would take pressure off the strong euro which is causing concern because it makes eurozone exports more expensive.
Government officials said Japan is seen by Germany as a central political partner and that views between Berlin and Tokyo converge on most key issues including the United Nations, where both nations are seeking permanent seats on the Security Council.
But this being said, some analysts see Tokyo as a possible rival for Berlin in its Security Council ambitions with Japan's support for the Iraq war helping Tokyo to secure Washington's endorsement in its quest for a Security Council seat.
With Schroeder having spearheaded European opposition to the US military action in Iraq, Germany is not on Washington's list of star candidates for the proposed enlarged Security Council.
As a result, the talks over UN reforms may cast something of a shadow over Schroeder's talks with Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi.
Before the closed talks in Beijing, Wen said Schroeder's arrival marked "another family visit" between leaders of the two countries.
Schroeder said the exchanges showed "how important relations between China and Germany are to the German people".
"These relations are not only political and economical, but also have a cultural dimension," Schroeder said. "China and Germany are both big cultural nations and have a lot to give to each other.
"I want to continue my tradition of coming to China every year because I believe that it is significant for the development of our relations," he said.
Leaders of several major German businesses are travelling with Schroeder in China, with Siemens signing a contract to produce 180 railway locomotives worth EUR 360 million.
Earlier on Monday, Schroeder attended a groundbreaking ceremony in Beijing for a DaimlerChrysler plant which is planned to produce 18,000 cars per year, calling the plant "a symbol of the increasing cooperation" between the two countries.
He also attended the opening of a representative office of the German steel group Georgsmarienhuette, making a brief speech urging more small and medium firms to seize business opportunities in China.
Before he left Germany, Schroeder countered criticism of his open policy towards China. "China is one of the most important markets. That's why I don't understand all of those who criticize economic cooperation with it. That helps our people here," he said in Berlin.
Wen was expected to renew China's call for the lifting of an EU arms embargo, which was imposed after the 1989 military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square.
Despite opposition from factions within Germany's ruling coalition, Schroeder supports the lifting of the embargo.
The human rights group Amnesty International on Sunday criticised Schroeder's position on the arms embargo and urged him to raise the profile of human rights issues in China.
Officials said Schroeder planned to raise human rights issues but would seek to "recognise and encourage" China's progress.
Schroeder is also accompanied by Transport Minister Manfred Stolpe, Interior Minister Otto Schily and more than 40 German business executives.
He is scheduled to meet President Hu Jintao on Tuesday, before travelling to the northeastern city of Changchun to open a Volkswagen joint venture plant designed to produce 33,000 cars annually.
China is Germany's biggest Asian trading partner. German exports to China rose 25 percent to EUR 18.2 billion last year, while imports from China rose 17 percent to EUR 25 billion.
[Copyright DPA with Expatica]
Subject: German news