Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping in a farewell video call on Wednesday, discussing the pandemic, climate change and other global challenges.
German government spokeswoman Martina Fietz said the leaders talked about “upcoming preparations for the G20 summit, climate change issues and combating the pandemic, as well as the European Union’s investment agreement with China.”
The two leaders also commended the fact that next year will mark 50 years of official diplomatic relations between Germany and the People’s Republic of China.
Xi calls Merkel a ‘friend’
During the call, Xi reportedly called Merkel a “friend of the Chinese people,” according to Chinese state-run media outlet CGTN.
Merkel will be leaving the chancellorship after a new German government is formed following coalition negotiations. Xi invited Merkel to visit China after she leaves office.
Merkel urges Asia trade diversification
In a separate event on Wednesday, Merkel urged German firms to diversify their business strategies in the Asia-Pacific and not solely rely on China.
“Almost 50% of Germany’s foreign trade in the Indo-Pacific region is accounted for in China,” Merkel told the Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business (APA). “We should not overlook that the Asia-Pacific is more than just China.”
Roland Busch, the CEO of German tech giant Siemens, also took part in the meeting, and voiced similar views that companies should broaden their horizons in Asia.
Merkel has been criticized for being too soft toward China during her tenure, particularly on the issue of human rights. German-Chinese trade has boomed since she took office in 2005.
The next German government could take a tougher approach toward Beijing. The Green Party, which may take part in the next governing coalition, has called for Germany to be more vocal in its condemnation of Chinese human rights abuses, such as the treatment of Uyghur Muslims.
wd/wmr (Reuters, AFP, dpa)