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Xi's German visit will strengthen ties: Ambassador

2014-03-27 16:30 chinadaily.com.cn Web Editor: Wang Fan

President Xi Jinping's visit to Germany will determine the strategic development direction for bilateral relations in the coming years, said China's ambassador to the country, Shi Mingde.  [Special coverage]

"The visit will foster mutual understanding and trust between the leaders of the two countries and further deepen pragmatic cooperation," Shi said.

During his visit from Friday to Saturday, Xi will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Joachim Gauck, business leaders from both countries, and issue a joint statement. The two countries will also sign some commercial agreements.

"Xi's visit, his first to Germany since he became president, demonstrates the great importance the leadership attaches to developing China-Germany and China-Europe relations," Shi said.

In recent years, leaders of both countries have frequently visited each other's homeland. In 2010, the countries elevated their bilateral relationship to a comprehensive strategic partnership.

"China and Germany share many consensuses and common interests in responding to global challenges and solving major regional and international hotspot issues," Shi said.

As the world's second- and fourth-largest economies, China and Germany have been working in their own ways, but also together, to deal with financial crises, and their economic and trade ties have become both more expansive and closer.

China and Germany are the largest trading partners for each other in their regions, and trade between the two accounts for nearly one-third of China-Europe trade, and is equivalent to the combined total of China-UK, China-France and China-Italy trade.

Germany is Europe's largest investor in China. Investment grew 43 percent, or $2.08 billion, last year. More than 7,500 German companies operate in China, and 71 percent of them make a profit.

Shi said Chinese investment in Germany was worth $830 million last year, 29 percent more than a year earlier, including investment in financial services, auto parts, construction machinery and renewable energy such as solar energy.

"China is pushing on with modernization — which embraces industrialization, informatization, urbanization and agricultural modernization — and these can become new priority areas as China and Germany work together," Shi said.

China has given greater access to investment, set up the Shanghai pilot free trade zone and continued to open up, presenting German companies with huge business opportunities, Shi said.

Besides political and economic collaboration, China and Germany enjoy increasingly closer exchanges in culture, education and people-to-people engagement, laying a solid foundation and providing momentum for even closer ties between the countries, Shi said.

In 2012, China staged "Year of Culture" activities in Germany for the first time, drawing widespread and enthusiastic public support. "Year of Languages" activities were held in China last year, with similar activities to be held in Germany this year.

More than 30,000 Chinese students are studying in Germany and more than 5,400 German students study in China. Sixty-nine provinces, states and cities in China and Germany have established friendly relations, and more than 500 colleges and universities maintain cooperative relations. Every week, more than 60 direct flights fly to and from the two countries.

Looking to the future, Shi said, "Both sides can absolutely build an updated version of China-Germany pragmatic cooperation."

The ambassador's words were echoed by analysts from both countries.

Gu Junli, a German studies researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told China Daily: "Bilateral relations between China and Germany are in their best historical period. How they consolidate and expand their collaboration will be an important matter of discussion for the countries in the future.

"Germany also plays a leading role in China's relationship with Europe," Gu said.

Cord Eberspaecher, director of the Confucius Institute Duesseldorf, said Xi's visit comes at an important time. "Good and close relations between China and Germany are more important than ever. Economically, both sides have profited from the growing exchange and they will continue to do so in the future."

"For a prosperous future of Sino-German relations, both sides can and should not rely only on economic exchange. For continued good relations, one has to foster mutual understanding and this can only be achieved by mutual exchange of people, culture and language," Eberspaecher added.

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