CHINA / National

Ties with Germany scale new heights
By Le Tian (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-05-23 06:26

China and Germany signed 19 agreements Monday to intensify collaboration in such fields as railways, finance, telecommunications, and energy at a ceremony attended by Premier Wen Jiabao and visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The partnership between China and Germany in the magnetic levitation (Maglev) field has "been fruitful" as demonstrated by the operation of the 30-kilometre railway between downtown Shanghai and Pudong International Airport, Wen pointed out.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (L)shakes hands with German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a welcome ceremony outside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing May 22, 2006. Merkel is on an official two day visit to China. [Xinhua]

Merkel is expected to ride on the Maglev train later today before she returns to Germany.

"I'd like to make a point here that China has a positive attitude in co-operation with Germany in Maglev technology," Wen said.

China is conducting a feasibility study on using Maglev technology on a 175-kilometre railway linking Shanghai and neighbouring Zhejiang Province, Wen said at a joint news conference with Merkel at the Great Hall of the People.

"Considering the investment is huge, we need an in-depth evaluation."

An expected contract on the rail link project was not signed.

The Maglev link between Shanghai and Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang, is estimated to cost 35 billion yuan (US$4.4 billion); and a Siemens-led group is bidding for the project.

But Siemens walked away with success in other fields it signed framework agreements with China Mobile and China Unicom to provide GSM equipment and services, as well as with Beijing Guohua Power Generation Corp for strategic partnership in IT business.

It also signed a framework agreement on technical co-operation with the Ministry of Railways for 6-axle freight and passenger platform locomotives.

The two countries also signed a memorandum of understanding on the protection of intellectual property in the textile industry.

Wen said China is sincerely committed to protecting intellectual property rights (IPRs).

"Protecting IPRs is not only China's international obligation, but also helps the country's own development," Wen said.

During one hour of talks, both leaders agreed to start the first round of a strategic dialogue this year to improve political consultation. They also agreed to enhance co-ordination in international affairs.

Bigger role

"China supports a bigger role for Germany in multilateral organizations, including the United Nations," Wen told his guest.

In response, Merkel said Germany hoped to maintain high-level contacts with China and have bilateral strategic talks to co-ordinate stances on key international and regional issues.

She also pointed out that Germany and China had become close economic partners.

Trade volume between the two sides reached US$63.2 billion last year, or one-third of that between China and the European Union.

Merkel, who also met President Hu Jintao yesterday, said she and the Chinese leader agreed during their talks that Iran must not have nuclear weapons or proliferate weapons of mass destruction.

"We spoke in great detail about the possibilities of a diplomatic solution for Iran, that the conflict should be resolved by diplomatic means and Iran must not have nuclear weapons," Merkel said.

"We want to direct the efforts of the (international) community more strongly towards reaching this aim."

Merkel arrived in Beijing on Sunday night for a three-day official visit, her first visit to China since taking office last November.

She arrived in Shanghai last night.