German leader Angela Merkel has begun a three-day visit to China with trade issues high on the agenda.
Germany and China are important trading partners and Angela Merkel is travelling with a large delegation of German business executives.
On Sunday, the German chancellor is visiting Chengdu, capital of south-western Sichuan province, where more than 150 German companies are active.
The visit is Angela Merkel’s seventh to China since taking office in 2005.
She will also hold talks with Premier Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping.
The Chinese market is important for Germany while China is looking to Germany as the supplier of machinery and cars for its rising middle class.
In the past, Angela Merkel has spoken out against human rights abuses in China but it is not clear if she will voice her disapproval this time.
At a joint business council in Beijing, the German delegation is expected to address sticking points such as fair market access for foreign companies and respect for intellectual property rights.
In an article in Welt am Sonntag, German intelligence chief Hans-Georg Maassen warned that small and medium-sized German companies were at risk of industrial espionage from Chinese government agencies.
“They are up against very powerful adversaries. The Chinese technical intelligence agency alone has over 100,000 employees,” Hans-Georg Maassen said in an excerpt of an interview to be published on Sunday.
China is Germany’s second largest export market outside Europe after the US.
Germany sold goods worth 67 billion euros ($91 billion) to China last year, while imports from China topped 73 billion euros.
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