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Chinese Premier Visits Southern German State of Bavaria

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao arrived in the southern city of Munich on Sunday on a three-day official visit to Germany. It is Wen's first visit to Europe since he took office as premier one year ago.

Wen's plane touched down just around 1:00 p.m. local time (1100 GMT) at Munich's Franz Josef Straus Airport and he was greeted by Bavarian Minster-President Edmund Stoiber. Then the Chinese premier went straight to visit a farm and the headquarters of German giant automobile maker Audi AG in Ingolstdt.

At the Audi AG headquarters, Wen was shown around the assembly lines and an Audi car exhibition. He also witnessed the signing of an agreement between the Volkswagan automobile giant and its Chinese cooperation partner.

Wen said he hoped the German automobile makers could transfer its technology to its Chinese partners, expand cooperation on joint research and development and enhance personnel training. "I believe, our cooperation partnership will be constantly developed," said the Chinese premier.

Then he attended a signing ceremony for an intention agreement on setting up a new joint venture plant near Shanghai between Volkswagen AG and Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp. Volkswagen, including Audi, boasts the biggest automobile share on the Chinese market. Volkswagen AG has sold nearly 700,000 automobiles in China in 2003, a 36 percent increase over the previous year. Audi has sold 63,000 automobiles in China in the past year.

On Sunday evening, the Chinese premier attended a welcoming banquet hosted by Bavarian Minister-President Stoiber in his honor. Wen highly praised Bavaria State's role in promoting Sino-German ties. He said the current Sino-German relations are in the best period in history and Bavaria State has greatly contributed to the development of relations of all-round cooperation and friendship between China and Germany.

Stoiber extended a warm welcome to Wen. He noted that the European Union admitted 10 new members on Saturday and the Chinese premier began his visit to Europe just one day after the EU enlargement, showing the importance of developing all-round cooperation between China and the EU.

Stoiber said the Bavaria state has been constantly pushing forward the friendly relations and cooperation between China and Germany, and is willing to make concerted efforts to further enhance the German-Chinese comprehensive partnership.

Germany is the first leg of the Chinese premier's five-nation European tour, which will also take him to Belgium, Italy, Britain and Ireland. He will also visit the European Union in Brussels.

During his visit to Germany, the Chinese premier will meet with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and others leaders and deliver a speech to a group of German business representatives.

Wen said earlier that his current visit to Germany was aimed at boosting Sino-German ties, establishing a mechanism of cooperation, strengthening consultations on major international issues and expanding trade, economic and technological cooperation, including that between small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The Chinese premier added that he hoped both sides would forge closer cooperation in the high-tech field and establish a mechanism for solving trade disputes.

Sino-German relations have made smooth progress since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1972, with exchanges of high-level visits on the rise in recent year. Germany is also China's largest economic and trade partner in Europe. The bilateral trade volume totaled US$41.8 billion in 2003.

(Xinhua News Agency May 3, 2004)

Chinese Premier Begins Official Visit to Germany
Chinese Premier Leaves for Europe Visit
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