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Bilateral relations

Merkel hails Germany-China ties as major business deals are signed

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has praised bilateral trade ties between China and Germany at a meeting with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang. However, she also asked for broader market access for German firms.

Chancellor Merkel on China trade visit

Ahead of talks with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang in Beijing on Monday morning, Chancellor Angela Merkel said cooperation between Berlin and Beijing was already broad-based, but that it should be deepened.

"Our business sector would like to gain access to the market on a even wider basis," Merkel said at a joint press conference with Li in the Chinese capital.

She called not just for equal access to the Chinese market and but also more transparency, saying that Germany in its turn was open to Chinese investment.

Li noted that although China's economic growth had improved in the second quarter, the government would maintain support measures to enable the economy to meet a growth target of around 7.5 percent.

Merkel, who is being accompanied by a high-powered business delegation, was given a formal military reception by Li on the second day of her three-day visit to China. This is her seventh visit to the country since becoming chancellor in 2005, underlining the importance of China as Germany's third-largest trading partner after the rest of the European Union and the USA.

Business deals

At their meeting, Merkel and Li witnessed the signing of a contract with European aircraft manufacturer Airbus for 100 helicopters, worth over $400 million (294 million euros).

German flagship airline Lufthansa also signed an agreement to establish a new joint venture with its Star Alliance partner Air China.

Although trade is the key note of her visit, the chancellor said talks between the two sides would also cover social issues and human rights.

Later on Monday, she was scheduled to attend a meeting of the China-Germany Economic and Trade Commission, before evening talks with President Xi Jinping.

On Tuesday, she is to address students at Beijing's Tsinghua University before returning to Berlin.

tj/pfd (AP, Reuters, dpa)

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