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China Says Ties with Germany Normal After Dalai Lama Row

June 16, 2008

Deutsche Welle (Germany)
June 13, 2008

Economic and political ties between Germany and China have been on
shaky ground since the Dalai Lama's visit to Germany last year. But
now, with the German foreign minister in Beijing, things seemed to
have improved.

Relations between China and Germany have normalized, China's Foreign
Minister Yang Jiechi told reporters on Friday, June 13, in Beijing.

"Recently China-Germany relations have already moved onto a track of
normal development," he said, calling German Foreign Minister
Frank-Walter Steinmeier's visit a "major event in China-Germany relations."

Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Yang Jiechi in Beijing

Steinmeier said that China and Germany would restart discussions on
key global issues, such as conflict prevention in Africa and climate
change, which had been suspended as a result of the Dalai Lama's
visit to Germany. China has been criticized in the West for not
taking advantage of its influence in Sudan to press for an end to
violence in Darfur.

"We will resume the interrupted strategic dialogue in the second half
of the year," said Steinmeier, who is seen as a potential future
candidate for chancellor.

During a meeting with Steinmeier, China's Premier Wen Jiabao said the
perception of China in Germany had recently improved and gave
assurances that the political situation in his country was stable.

Germany promises 8 schools for quake-hit region

The foreign minister pledged reconstruction aid to the earthquake-hit
region of Sichuan in south-western China and said that Germany would
help build eight schools in the area.

In thanking Steinmeier, Premier Wen said the contributions were a
sign of a deep friendship between the countries.

Steinmeier is scheduled to visit the Sichuan province on the weekend.
There he will meet with German aid workers who are helping the
survivors of the quake, which left more than 86,000 people dead or missing.

Dalai Lama visit forgiven and forgotten

The foreign minister has distanced himself from German Chancellor
Angela Merkel's decision to meet with the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled
spiritual leader, in Berlin last September. He has since been at the
forefront of efforts to repair strained relations with China and
refused to meet with the Dalai Lama when he returned to Germany last month.

Angela Merkel and the Dalai Lama in BerlinBildunterschrift:
Großansicht des Bildes mit der Bildunterschrift:  Merkel's meeting
with the Dalai Lama had political consequences

However, on Friday Steinmeier said he hoped the dialogue between
China and representatives of the Dalai Lama would continue. He added
that it was important to Germany that progress is made in preserving
Tibetan culture and religion.

Steinmeier has also been less vocal about China's human
rights  record than the chancellor and has typically favored quiet
diplomacy in China's conflict with Tibet.

Although the Dalai Lama has repeatedly said he does not advocate
self-rule for Tibet, an autonomous Chinese province, China believes
that he is trying to achieve independence and condemns on political
grounds all foreign politicians who meet with him.

Anger over Merkel's meeting with the Dalai Lama drove a wedge between
the countries, which have established growing trade ties in recent
years as the world's top two exporters of goods.
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