German Chancellor Angela Merkel will embark on her seventh visit to China this weekend, accompanied by top business leaders and officials, who continue to remain optimistic about boosting bilateral economic and commercial ties between the two countries.
Chancellor Merkel, according to the New York Times, will first visit Chengdu, capital of western Sichuan Province, where she will meet the provincial leadership and visit a joint venture operated by the German automaker Volkswagen and a social center designed to help the children of migrant workers. From there, she will fly to Chinese capital Beijing, where she will be received with military honours by Prime Minister Li Keqiang and attend a dinner hosted by President Xi Jinping.
She will also meet film directors and address students at Tsinghua University. During the visit, matters related to the protection of human rights could come up for discussions.
Merkel has been in power since 2005, making her one of the longer-serving heads of government in Europe. Under her leadership, Germany and China have forged strong business and political ties.
In 2014 alone, President Xi was in Germany in March; German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited China in mid-April and Sigmar Gabriel, the vice chancellor and economics minister, in late April.
While in China from Sunday to Tuesday, Merkel will oversee the creation of a new economic committee to prepare the ground for high-level talks in Berlin in October designed to map cooperation for the next several years. In 2000, government figures show that China accounted for 1.6 percent of all German exports, and in 2014, this figure has risen to 6.1 percent. China is now Germany's No. 3 market, after France and The Netherlands.
The share of European businesses that wants to expand in China dropped to 57 percent this year from 86 percent a year earlier, according to the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Berlin.