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Premier Li and Merkel: friendship behind the China-Germany economic ‘dream team’

Updated: May 31,2017 2:41 PM     chinadaily.com.cn

Premier Li Keqiang starts his visit to Germany on May 31. During the visit he will meet with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In a phone call with Merkel earlier this year, Premier Li called for the two countries to play a leading role in ensuring international markets don’t become unsettled. Germany is China’s largest trading partner in the European Union and the two leaders are well known for their comprehensive talks on economic and trade issues, in formal meetings and on the sidelines of negotiations. Here’s a look back at their meetings on trade, goods and services.

Premier Li in Germany

October 2014

Premier Li Keqiang gives a Luban Lock, a Chinese puzzle, to German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the China-Germany Economic and Technological Forum during his visit to Berlin on Oct 10, 2014.[Photo/Xinhua]

Premier Li said the two countries can cooperate to solve global challenges just like unlocking the Luban Lock is a process of solving problems.

Premier Li Keqiang talks to German Chancellor Angela Merkel at a supermarket they visited on Oct 10, 2014, after the two government heads met for discussions on Sino-German relations.[Photo/cnr.cn]

German imports from and exports to China rose to 170 billion euros ($180 billion) in 2016, according to the German Federal Statistics Office. China became Germany’s most important trading partner in 2016 for the first time.

Premier Li Keqiang and German Chancellor Angela Merkel visit the Royal Porcelain Factory KPM (Koenigliche Porzellan-Manufaktur) in Berlin, Germany, on Oct 10, 2014.[Photo/Chinanews.com]

Premier Li Keqiang said that although porcelain originates from China, Germany has excelled in its porcelain-making technology. He added that the two countries should learn from each other.

Deals worth more than $18 billion were signed during Premier Li Keqiang visit to Germany in October 2014, in the third round of top-level talks between the Asian and European export powerhouses that year. [Photo/Chinanews.com]

China and Germany also signed a wide-ranging guideline covering 110 cooperation agreements over the next five to 10 years, the largest agreement of its kind that China has reached with another country.

May 2013

Premier Li Keqiang and German Chancellor Angela Merkel attend a signing ceremony after their talks in Berlin, Germany, May 26, 2013.[Photo/Xinhua]

To take full advantage of these opportunities, the Premier suggested closer cooperation between the two countries’ manufacturing industry on standard-making, technological innovation and personnel training, while deepening collaboration on developing information and communication technologies.

Merkel in China

June 2016

Premier Li Keqiang and German Chancellor Angela Merkel visit Kunming Lake at the Summer Palace in Beijing.[Photo by Wu Zhiyi/China Daily]

It was Merkel’s second visit to a World Heritage site in Beijing after she toured the Temple of Heaven in 2014. She was making her ninth trip to China since taking office, making her the most frequent visitor to China among western leaders. Premier Li later hosted a banquet for Merkel near the Summer Palace, where they also held an informal meeting.

Oct 2015

Premier Li Keqiang talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel before a signing ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on Oct 29, 2015.[Photo/gov.cn]

The talk in the hallway of the Great Hall of the People lasted about 10 minutes, after already extending a meeting from the scheduled 30 minutes to 70 minutes. Later, at a joint news conference, they agreed to seek mutual benefits from China’s “Made in China 2025” plan and Germany’s Industry 4.0 concept.

Premier Li Keqiang and German Chancellor Angela Merkel exchange gifts before dinner in Hefei, the capital of East China’s Anhui province, on Oct 30, 2015.[Photo/Xinhua]

It was the first time that Premier Li has invited a foreign leader to visit his home province.

After presentations of Anhui calligraphy and painting and a tea art show, the two leaders exchanged gifts. Premier Li presented Merkel with quality local tea varieties such as Qimen black tea and Huangshan maofeng tea, as well as an Anhui-style picture made of silk and brocade. In return, the German leader gave Premier Li a porcelain statue made by Germany’s Royal Porcelain Factory, and a comic book showing the cultural differences between the two countries.

Premier Li Keqiang and German Chancellor Angela Merkel drink beer brewed by Chinese and German students during their visit to Hefei University in Hefei, East China’s Anhui province, Oct 30, 2015. [Photo/Chinanews.com]

Hefei University was jointly founded by Anhui and the German state of Lower Saxony in 1984. The university has maintained exchanges with 17 German higher institutions and seen frequent exchanges of Chinese and German teachers and students over the past 30 years. Premier Li and Merkel said that Hefei University will act as a demonstration site for China-Germany education cooperation.

July 2014

Premier Li Keqiang and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met teenagers from China and Germany at the closing ceremony of the China-Germany Year of Languages program at the Temple of Heaven Park in Beijing on July 7, 2014.[Photo/Chinanews.cn]

About 100 students and teachers from China and Germany were amazed to find that both the start and the end of the China-Germany Year of Language program included the two leaders.

On May 26, 2013, Premier Li and Merkel met local students in Berlin at the launch ceremony of the program, an initiative meant to encourage people from both nations to study each other’s language.

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