Chinese vice premier visits Berlin to deepen German ties
Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang begins a three-day visit to Berlin on Thursday aimed at deepening business and political ties between the world's top two exporters dpa reported
Seen as a rising star on China's political stage, Li is to hold a string of talks with Germany's leadership, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle as well as Economics and Technology Minister Rainer Bruederle.
Along with German President Christian Wulff, Li is also to meet with top business leaders from Europe's biggest economy over dinner.
His visit to Berlin comes at a critical point for Germany and its partners in the 17-member eurozone as they battle to resolve the debt crisis gripping parts of the currency bloc and shore up investor confidence in heavily indebted euro states. This includes both Portugal and Spain.
Li was due to arrive in Germany from Spain, where he committed China to helping Madrid lay aside its financial difficulties and to continuing to buy Spain's public debt.
The Spanish daily El Pais reported Thursday that Li told Madrid that Beijing plans to spend about six billion euros on Spanish bonds. After Germany he is scheduled to travel on to Britain.
Li, 55, is also seen by analysts as a possible successor to Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao.
China's booming economy has been a major force in helping to drive Germany's key export machine.
In particular, China's rapid economic transformation has resulted in strong demand for Germany's infrastructure goods and its cars.
German carmakers Volkswagen and Daimler, which both have a strong presence in China, along with several small-to-medium sized companies hope to sign new contracts with China during Li's visit.
But in an interview ahead of his trip, Bruederle called on China to step up moves to prise open its economy to German companies.
Bruederle told the German business newspaper Handlesblatt that Beijing was still giving preference to domestic companies over their foreign rivals