Merkel arrives in China for meetings, urged to push on human rights

Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Beijing Sunday for the fourth Sino-German joint cabinet meeting, where she is expected to bring up concerns about China's industrial overcapacity and human rights situation. 

Merkel is travelling with six ministers and five permanent secretaries who are scheduled to meet with counterparts in the Chinese government on Monday.

The chancellor is expected to give a speech Sunday afternoon at the Chinese Academy of Sciences then meet Chinese premier Li Keqiang at Beijing's Summer Palace.

She said that she plans to push for Beijing to ease its stance on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and to address China's excess steel production crisis, according to a video statement released Saturday.

German industry is seeking an increase in its protection from dumping and for China to reduce excess capacity, which has put pressure on European markets and prompted statements of concern from the EU.

The relatives of Chinese journalist Gao Yu asked Merkel to raise her case with Beijing. Gao, 71, has requested permission to travel to Germany, which has offered to provide assistance, for medical treatment for heart trouble.

China has denied allowing her out of the country, where she has no pension or other long-term support.

Gao, who worked for Germany's Deutsche Welle radio among other outlets, was found guilty in April 2015 of passing documents to people outside the country.

On Saturday, Amnesty International said Merkel should call on Beijing to urgently stop its crackdown on human rights lawyers and activists and release several who have been detained since last summer.

"We also call on the Chinese authorities to stop criminal persecution of individuals and groups, including Tibetans, Uighurs, Mongolians and other ethnic minorities, for exercising their rights to freedom of expression, religion and belief," Amnesty International China researcher William Nee said.

Merkel's visit follows the conclusion of the eighth annual China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue last week.

During the talks, US Secretary of State John Kerry pushed China on trade issues including excess production capacity and brought up China's new foreign NGO management law as a particular point of concern.

"We feel that [NGOs] work to help to build an understanding between us and to help build capacity in certain important sectors of the economy and the relationship," Kerry said in his concluding remarks.

"I expressed the importance of allowing these organizations to continue to function effectively across the country."

Last update: Sun, 12/06/2016 - 11:20

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