Relations with Germany strengthened, China says
Germany's support after the devastating Sichuan earthquake in March helped smooth German-Chinese relations after past upsets, Chinese President Hu Jintao said Friday.
Germany was the European country "which helped China most after this catastrophe," Hu told Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is in Beijing to participate in the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Summit on Friday and Saturday.
"This is a clear sign of friendship from the German government to the Chinese people," he added, reported dpa.
Merkel vowed closer cooperation with China in view of the global economic crisis. "We are ready to work even closer with China, especially in times of economic difficulties," the conservative chancellor said.
Merkel then met with Chinese intellectuals at a Beijing hotel. According to a participant, discussions included Chinese sensibilities regarding Tibet, as well as Taiwan, the developments within China's society and the effects of the Beijing Olympic Games.
Journalism professor Zhan Jiang, one of the four Chinese participants, told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa that the chancellor asked why China had been so annoyed over her meeting the Dalai Lama.
Bilateral relations between China and German deteriorated markedly after a 2007 meeting between Merkel and the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader.
"We explained to her that it is very complicated. We have a very difficult relationship with the Dalai Lama," Zhan said.
"The Germans believe this is just a question of religion and culture," constitution expert Cai Dingjian said. "But for China this is related to national sovereignty."
"There is much sunshine in the economic relations with Germany, but we take our sovereignty very seriously and react harshly when Taiwan and Tibet are concerned - then it gets dark in the relations," he added.
Other participants were writer Li Er and historian Wu Si.