Report: Former chancellor Schroeder to attend Olympics opening
Gerhard Schroeder, Angela Merkel's predecessor as German chancellor, is to attend the official opening of the Beijing Olympics next month, according to a report in a German newspaper published Wednesday.
The weekly Die Zeit reported that a spokesman from Schroeder's office had confirmed his attendance.
Merkel will not be at the official opening on August 8, nor will Germany's largely ceremonial president, Horst Koehler, who will however attend the subsequent Paralympics in the Chinese capital, reported dpa.
Writing in Die Zeit, which appears on newsstands on Thursdays, Schroeder says Germany can exercise more influence on China than other European countries.
Those who understood China knew that this could not be achieved by open attack, but rather through cooperation, Schroeder says.
"When I was chancellor my aim was to support the Chinese government as a modernizing partner, not through talking down to them," Schroeder wrote.
Since leaving office in 2005, Schroeder has been working for the state-controlled Russian gas monopoly Gazprom, promoting the building of a controversial pipeline under the Baltic Sea.
By contrast with Schroeder's pragmatic approach to China, Merkel offended Beijing by meeting the Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama in September last year.
German-Chinese relations have only recently recovered from the long chill that resulted.