Li, Merkel vow to settle trade dispute

Updated: 2013-05-27 11:06

By Fu Jing and Ding Qingfen in Berlin (China Daily)

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China and Germany have voiced opposition to trade protectionism, promising to settle the disputes on solar power and mobile telecommunication equipment through dialogue.

In a joint statement issued on Sunday during Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel and Li called for all parties to strictly abide by the rules set by the World Trade Organization and support the multilateral trade system of fairness and justice.

They also pledged to push for an early conclusion of the Doha Round of trade talks.

The European Commission, the 27-nation bloc's executive arm, accuses China of pricing its solar panels and some mobile telecom devices too cheaply, and has proposed imposing an average 47 percent special duty on imports of Chinese solar panels.

"Germany will work for this to be resolved as quickly as possible because we don't believe (tariffs) would help us very much," said Merkel. "And that's why we should very intensely use the next six months, and Germany will do everything to ensure that the talks will really advance."

Li said he hopes that talks between Beijing and Brussels will be able to avoid a trade standoff and yield "an amicable solution".

He criticized the EC's approach, saying "it sends a wrong signal because we want to fight protectionism together".

"We strongly oppose this decision," he said of the proposed solar panel tariffs. "We hope that the EU won't use protectionist trade measures for such small a cause."

The EU, the world's largest economy, is China's second-biggest business partner after the US, with a trade volume of about 430 billion euros ($556 billion) in 2012. The solar panel exports stand for about 7 percent of China's total exports to the EU.

Both sides believe that China and the EU are important strategic forces in the world arena and cooperative partners in promoting world peace, prosperity and stability. The two countries will intensify cooperation to promote the development of China-EU relations and jointly cope with such global challenges as energy and natural resource security, climate change, environmental protection and food security.

China appreciates Germany's role in solving the eurozone debt crisis, as well as the large-scale stabilizing measures taken by EU members, while Germany recognizes China's constructive attitude and contribution to solving the crisis, said the joint statement.

They also exchanged views on the international situation, including the Iranian nuclear issue and the situation in Syria, and pledged to continue to carry out constructive pragmatic cooperation in multilateral forums, such as the United Nations.

Earlier on Sunday, Premier Li urged Japan to respect China's territorial sovereignty and the order created after World War II, while offering to work with Germany to achieve more global peace.

Li delivered the message to the media after he paid a half-hour visit to Cecilienhof Palace in Potsdam, where Soviet, US and British leaders met at the end of World War II for discussions that culminated in the Potsdam Proclamation.

"The site of the Potsdam meeting is a place of historic significance," Li said after he had read the original declaration in the palace's archive. "The Potsdam Proclamation clearly states that Japan must return China's territories of Northeast China, Taiwan and other islands after surrendering."

"The victory and international order had been achieved at the cost of sacrifices of tens of millions of lives," said Li, adding that only by facing up to history can the future be opened up.

Any attempt to deny or glorify the wartime aggression is a challenge to international justice, which will not be tolerated by the Chinese people and will be condemned by people all over the world, he said.

Li said Germany is a country that loves peace, and China and Germany will work hand in hand in this endeavor.

Observers said Li's first stop in Germany demonstrates Beijing's determination to safeguard its sovereignty based on the outcome of World War II and its commitment to peaceful means when handling international affairs.

Li is on the last leg of his visit to India, Pakistan, Switzerland and Germany. He arrived in Berlin on Saturday afternoon and began his two-day visit at Ceilienhof Palace.

Li told reporters he had spent a pleasant night watching the all-German European League Championship soccer final on TV, which Merkel had attended in London. He even asked a German photographer which team he supported.

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AP and Xinhua contributed to this story.

(China Daily USA 05/27/2013 page1)