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A special relationship emerges

08-31-2012 08:33 BJT

Ties between nations can often be summed up using words such as strategic, cooperative or beneficial.

When it comes to Sino-German relations, that word is special.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and much of her cabinet are visiting Beijing for the second time this year.

The special relationship between the two world powers is evident in broad cooperation and more importantly, high-level exchanges which are both official and casual - Merkel's itinerary on this visit includes a trip to the Forbidden City.

When Premier Wen Jiabao visited Germany in April, he and Merkel enjoyed a casual lunch of sandwiches in order to save time as they toured an exhibition area for Chinese and German enterprises at the Hanover trade fair.

In February, Merkel visited China for the fifth time since taking office. After meeting President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao on Feb 2 in Beijing, she was accompanied by Wen on a trip to Guangzhou the next day, where they participated in a German-Chinese economic forum.

It was not the first time Merkel was greeted with a special reception by her Chinese counterpart.

In July 2010, concluding official appearances in Beijing, Premier Wen flew with Merkel to Xi'an, capital of Shaanxi province, and celebrated her 56th birthday with a bright pink steamed bun shaped like a peach and a trip to the Terracotta Warriors.

It was during this historic visit that China and Germany forged a strategic partnership.

In May 2006 when Merkel first came to China, her meeting with Wen was marked by a friendly walk in the Changpuhe Park.

Analysts said such diplomacy has broken the routine and shows how closely connected the Sino-German relationship has become in recent years.

Zhao Chen, a research fellow at the Institute of European Studies of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told Beijing magazine Vistastory that Wen and Merkel, as leaders of the major powers in Asia and Europe, have established a sound personal friendship through frequent communication.

But the German leaders' shift toward China is not all "smooth sailing", said Zhou Hong, director of the Institute of European Studies at CASS. Zhou said Merkel's diplomatic policy had once "made trouble" for relations between Beijing and Berlin.

In April 2008, Merkel ignored protests from Beijing and met with the Dalai Lama, causing a diplomatic deadlock between the two nations. But she quickly shifted toward Beijing and sought to patch up ties while attending the 7th Asia-Europe Summit in Beijing.

When Merkel and Wen met following the diplomatic deadlock, Merkel said she had visited China every year since taking office as chancellor and it was the "right choice".

China and Germany started strategic dialogue in 2006 and after five years the two countries launched inter-governmental consultation, a diplomatic mechanism China does not have with any other European country.

Merkel's approach to China "is not just a result of close economic integration between two of the world's largest exporting nations", German magazine Spiegel said. "To understand a country is the same as understanding a man. It takes time to enhance trust," Wen said during a visit to Germany in January 2009.

Editor:James |Source: China Daily

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