German Chancellor Angela Merkel will make an official visit to China from Oct 29 to 30. Merkel is regarded as one of the most powerful women in the world, and she shares a deep and profound personal friendship with Premier Li Keqiang.
In March 2013, when Premier Li took the oath of office, Merkel became the first national leader to congratulate him over a phone call.
On May 26, 2013, when Premier Li was on an official visit to Germany, Merkel hosted a special welcome dinner at Schloss Meseberg, the palatial retreat used by German chancellors to entertain world leaders and close personal friends. German employment law restricts overtime on weekends, but the federal police force and government staff members made a huge exception for Li Keqiang’s visit, which was on a Sunday.
It wasn’t all business for Merkel during her state visit in July 2014. The German chancellor took some time to sample the local cuisine, buying a bag of broad bean paste in an open market and learning to cook Kung Pao chicken at a local restaurant. Knowing Merkel’s love for hot and spicy Sichuan cuisine, Premier Li Keqiang made a last-minute call to change the welcome dinner menu, adding a classic poached sliced beef in hot chili oil. The following day, he took Merkel for a casual stroll at the Temple of Heaven.
Three months later, Premier Li visited Germany again in October 2014. The two old friends attended 12 events that altogether lasted 10 hours. Merkel took Premier Li out shopping in a local supermarket after the meetings, introducing him to German products and recommending two postcards for him to send to his family.
Afterwards, Premier Li gave a traditional Chinese puzzle game called Lu Ban Lock to Merkel during a bilateral forum, saying he hoped the two countries can “solve difficulties with intelligence and expand their future”.
Merkel will kick off her eighth official visit to China this week. During her stay, Premier Li will take her to China’s Anhui province, which is known as Li’s hometown. So any surprises awaiting for Merkel? Let’s see.