Hu begins visit to Germany against backdrop of protests

10th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

10 November 2005, BERLIN - Chinese President Hu Jintao began a three-day visit Thursday to Germany to the backdrop of hundreds of demonstrators gathering in Berlin to protest against his trip.

10 November 2005

BERLIN - Chinese President Hu Jintao began a three-day visit Thursday to Germany to the backdrop of hundreds of demonstrators gathering in Berlin to protest against his trip.

Ahead of his arrival, about 300 demonstrators gathered in Berlin's Unter den Linden boulevard in the German capital's historic centre demanding the "Fall of the Red Wall" before marching to the Chinese Embassy several kilometres away, police said.

While a smaller group of protestors against Beijing's rule of Tibet gathered near Berlin's Brandenburg Gate, demonstrators including members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, banned in China, held protests outside Charlottenburg castle.

Hu, who is on his first state visit to Germany, was officially welcomed with full military honours at the historic Berlin castle by German President Horst Koehler.

Police said that altogether 30 protests or silent demonstrations had been registered to be held during Hu's visit.

German industry and political leaders hope that his visit will give fresh impetus to the nation's economic ties with China.

Altogether the two countries are expected to sign during the Hu visit economic agreements totalling more than 1.4 billion euros (1.6 billion dollars.)

The Chinese President's visit to Europe's biggest economy comes at a time of Germany's worsening trade deficit with China.

According to the Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), German exports to China fell by 12.7 per cent during the first six months of the year, while imports from China surged by 26.3 per cent.

"The previous picture of an never-ending upwind has changed dramatically," said Friedolin Strack, the chief of the Federation of German Industry (BDI) Asian section.

A key cause of the export slump has been the drop in German car sales in China, for which fewer spare parts are ordered from Germany.

In addition, German business leaders have grown concerned about product privacy in China and legal protection rights in the country.

But despite the drop in German exports, the nation's industry remains relatively optimistic about the Chinese market.

"The upwards potential is as before still there," said Jens Nagel from the German Federation of Wholesale and Foreign Trade (BGA).

Echoing these comments, Economics and Labour Minister Wolfgang Clement told a Sino-German industry conference in Berlin that he was confident the present trend in trade between the two countries could be reversed.

"China has the effect of drawing in international enterprises from which they can hardly extract themselves", said Clement.

In the meantime, corporate Germany has launched a new business offensive drive in China to bolster its presence in the country and to face up to growing global competition in the world's most populous nation.

This includes a string of recent moves by leading German companies such as Deutsche Bank AG and carmakers DaimlerChrysler, Porsche and Volkswagen aimed at strengthening their operations in China.

Moreover, with China's economy consuming enormous amounts of energy to support its strong growth rate, Strack sees one key major area for German exporters in China as environmental technology.

Strack also sees potential in developing economic ties in the area of mechanical engineering and city development.

"Germany is the country which has brought the most innovative technologies to China," the president of the Federation of Chinese Industry (CFIE) Xu Kuangdi told Thursday's Sino-German industry conference.

Hu's visit to Germany also comes as the political leaders in Berlin are trying to hammer out the final details of a new grand coalition government following September's inconclusive election.

On Friday, Hu is scheduled to hold a series of top-level meetings in Berlin, including with chancellor-designate Angela Merkel and Germany's outgoing leader Gerhard Schroeder.

Together with Schroeder, who has visited China six times during his seven years as chancellor, Hu plans to lay the foundation stone for first Chinese culture institute in Germany.

The Chinese President's trip to Germany forms part of a wider visit to Europe, which has already included Great Britain. After Germany, he plans to travel to Spain.


Subject: German news

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