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German Chancellor's China Visit
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German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Beijing on Sunday night to start an official visit to China from May 21 to 23. This is the German Chancellor's first visit to China since she came to power in November 2005.

During Merkel's stay in Beijing she'll meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao. Premier Wen Jiabao will hold talks with her.

Wen and Merkel will host a joint news briefing after their talks. The two leaders will attend the fourth meeting of the China-Germany High-Tech Dialogue Forum to be held in Beijing. The two sides will also sign a number of cooperation agreements and project contracts.

Merkel's delegation, which comprises senior officials including Economy Minister Michael Glos, Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee and a delegation of 40 executives from companies such as Siemens and Lufthansa, clearly indicates the economic importance of her trip.

A series of contracts and documents will be signed during her two-day visit. 

Siemens, which led a group that helped build the 30-kilometer magnetic levitation (Maglev) train link between downtown and Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, could be among the winners of new contracts.

A Siemens-led group is bidding to build a 35-billion-yuan (US$4.4 billion) Maglev link between Shanghai and the nearby city of Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province.

Merkel pledged to "develop a long-term partnership-style strategy" with Beijing when she took office on November 22. Her trip to China is only the second country outside Europe she has visited as Chancellor following two trips to the United States.

Germany is an important economic partner for China. Trade volume between the two sides was US$63.2 billion last year, accounting for one-third of the total between China and the European Union, according to Foreign Ministry statistics. There are more than 1,800 German companies operating in China according to the German Embassy in Beijing.

Merkel, who is in Beijing at the invitation of Wen, will also visit Shanghai.

(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily May 22, 2006)

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