Germany, China begin online talks amid friction on multiple fronts

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday began online talks in an attempt to resolve a series of outstanding issues between their two countries.

The talks, the sixth in a series of consultations every two years that began in 2011, were being attended by Cabinet members on both sides.

The German side said it was hoping for progress on issues such as the environment, climate change and general business relations.

Government spokesman, Steffen Seibert described relations with China as dynamic, close and varied.

Wang Wenbin, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, referred to good momentum in bilateral cooperation that needed to be given fresh impulse.

The talks were overshadowed firstly by the problems caused to German businesses by China’s strict travel restrictions, which have been in place because of the pandemic.

There were also tensions over Germany and Europe’s criticism of China’s tough stance on Hong Kong, as well as its treatment of the Uighur Muslim minority in Xinjiang.

China’s territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea were another point of friction.

In response to European punitive measures over Xinjiang, China imposed far-reaching counter-sanctions on the EU, which also hit Germany.

In view of the disputes, the future of an investment agreement between China and the EU, which was negotiated in principle under German leadership, is also in doubt. (dpa/NAN)