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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

German foreign minister raises issue of human rights during China visit

January 18, 2010

CHINA | 15.01.2010
Deutsche Welle

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle arrived in Beijing on Friday. In
talks with his counterpart there, he said he raised the issue of human
rights as well as the situation in Tibet.

Friday's meeting between Guido Westerwelle and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang
Jiechi was followed by a press conference. Westerwelle told jounalists that
he had used his talks with Yang to broach the subjects of human rights,
press freedom and freedom of speech in China.

"My foreign minister counterpart knows that a cornerstone of our foreign
policy is standing up for human rights, for the protection of minorities,
freedom of opinion, freedom of the press and freedom of religion."

Westerwelle did not shy away from tough topics with Yang

Westerwelle was expected to discuss specific cases of imprisoned dissidents
in his meetings later on Friday. The wife of Liu Xiaobo, who was sentenced
last month to 11 years in prison for "incitement to subvert state power,"
has asked Westerwelle to bring up her husband's case with Yang and Prime
Minister Wen Jiabao. "It would be very important," she told the German press
agency, dpa.

Westerwelle is to meet with members of the opposition on Saturday.

Divided on Tibet

Regarding the Himalayan region of Tibet, the two foreign ministers shared
their "different views." Yang reiterated that Beijing regards the region as
a part of the territory of China. The Chinese government indirectly warned
Westerwelle not to meet with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader.
Yang said the Chinese government was "absolutely against" any official
visits between the Dalai Lama and international governments.

Relations between China and Germany were strained when German Chancellor
Angela Merkel met with the Dalai Lama in 2007.

Iran remains a global challenge

Yang and Westerwelle also expressed a difference of opinion in dealing with
Iran. Westerwelle said Germany was ready to impose new sanctions against
Tehran if diplomatic negotiations failed. Yang said every country had a
right to the use of nuclear energy for peaceful means and that a diplomatic
solution must be found.

Western countries suspect that the Islamic Republic is seeking to build
nuclear weapons. Iranian officials maintain that they are simply investing
in nuclear energy. Westerwelle said it would be "unacceptable" for Iran to
develop nuclear weapons.

Working on German-Chinese relations

Yang and Westerwelle announced that they would be meeting twice a year to
strengthen the relationship between their two countries. Yang said he would
be attending the annual Munich Security Conference in February as the first
Chinese foreign minister to do so.

Despite differences of opinion, both sides agree the talks were friendly and
open

This is Westerwelle's first trip to Asia since becoming Germany's foreign
minister last autumn.

On Thursday he held talks with officials in Japan, including Prime Minister
Yukio Hatoyama. They agreed to cooperate in efforts to secure permanent
seats at the United Nations Security Council.
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