China signals mending of diplomatic ties with Germany

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China appears to signal the healing of a rift with Germany following Chancellor Angela Merkel's meeting with the Dalai Lama last year, saying it welcomes the German government's positions on both Tibet and Taiwan.

21st January 2008

Beijing (dpa) - "The Chinese government attaches great importance to its friendly ties with Germany and has always taken a strategic and long-term perspective in studying and handling the problems in bilateral relations," foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in a statement posted on the ministry's website.

China appreciates Germany's opposition to "any attempt seeking Tibet's independence" and to Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian's plans for a referendum on whether Taiwan should join the United Nations, Jiang said.

Jiang was responding to a question about whether Sino-German relations had "overcome previous difficulties," the ministry said.

She pointed out that Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi would meet his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, during six-nation talks on Iran's nuclear programme in Berlin on Tuesday.

Sigmar Gabriel, the German environment minister, would also visit China soon, Jiang said.

The two sides had "conducted consultation for many times to overcome the difficulties in bilateral relationship and foster a stable and healthy development of China-Germany relations," she said.

The German government had indicated that it "attaches great significance in developing its relationship with China" and promised to continue to accept the "one China" policy, which precludes any formal diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

It had also agreed not to "support or encourage any attempt to seek Tibet's independence," Jiang said in a statement that was reported by the People's Daily, the Xinhua news agency and other state media.

Under those conditions, China was "willing to make joint efforts with Germany in compliance with the basic norms of dealing with international relations," she said.

China reacted furiously to Merkel's meeting in September with the Dalai Lama.

Previous German chancellors had carefully avoided meeting the Tibetan leader, who has lived in exile in India since 1959, for fear of angering Beijing.

The Dalai Lama calls for greater autonomy for Tibet within China although many Tibetans still favour independence.

Beijing accuses him of promoting separatism, refuses to hold direct dialogue with him and regularly protests his contacts with world leaders.


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