Kurt Beck, chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Germany's ruling coalition government, criticized German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday for her meeting with the Dalai Lama and called for "engagement" with China.
Beck told local Frankfurter Allgemainen newspaper that China is Germany's "strategic partner" that Germany can not afford to lose.
"Those who think that the global pressing issues can be solved without China and Russia, are wrong," said Beck.
Beck's criticism came after bilateral ties were seriously affected by Merkel's meeting with the Dalai Lama in September.
Beck said Merkel's meeting with the Dalai Lama in the name of "human rights," initiated by Roland Koch, the governor of the central German state of Hesse, could merely benefit the local elections there in January.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has also accused Merkel of "shop window politics" in her dealings with China and Russia over the so-called human rights issues.
Eberhard Sandschneider, director of the German Council on Foreign Relations, said Merkel's meeting with the Dalai Lama was "a major mistake" and the hurt it caused to bilateral ties may take some time to heal.
(Xinhua News Agency December 24, 2007)