Berlin: German Chancellor, Angela Merkel set off on Sunday for China on the first leg of a week-long Asian tour, with climate change, human rights and economic ties among the issues topping her agenda.
Merkel headed for Beijing, where she is to meet President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao on 27August. She also plans to visit the city of Nanjing before continuing to Japan on 29August.
She will visit Kyoto, which gave its name to the current protocol limiting greenhouse gas emissions,underlining her push for a new global agreement to combat climate change once that agreement expires in 2012.
Making her second visit to China as chancellor, she clarified that she would not shy away from awkward issues. When she last visited in May 2006, she discussed the country’s human rights record and called it an “important issue of bilateral dialogue.”
“We have close economic and political relations, and we should be able to naturally discuss questions that are perhaps contentious. “China has very close relations with Africa, and we naturally will speak about how we can combat the terrible human rights violations in Sudan, in the Darfur region,” she said.
China has been accused of not doing more to stop the bloodshed in Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5 million others displaced since February 2003.
After resisting calls for intervention, China dispatched a special envoy and lobbied Sudan to accept a UN peacekeeping force.
At the German-hosted G-8 summit in June, leaders agreed to “seriously consider” proposals to cut emissions of greenhouse gases by 50 percent by 2050, nonbinding language that was a compromise between EU, which wants mandatory cuts, and US, which opposes them.
Merkel is keen for fast-rising economic powers, and polluters like China to join in future efforts against global warming.
Currently, developing countries like China and India are exempt from Kyoto’s obligations part of the reason why both the US and Australia refused to join in.