Merkel to press China on NGO law, steel production during trip

Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to push for Beijing to ease its stance on non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and address the steel production crisis during her upcoming trip to China, she said in a video on Saturday.

According to Merkel, the work performed by the foundations helps bring China and Germany closer, a "win-win situation" that should not be hindered by a Chinese law set to go in effect in 2017 that forbids foreign NGOs from financing or engaging in "political activities."

The chancellor flies to Beijing late Saturday with six ministers and five permanent secretaries for the fourth Sino-German joint cabinet meeting on Monday.

Merkel also addressed Chinese steel production in the video, saying that "we have a very complicated situation at the moment with the steel market." The German industry is seeking additional protections from dumping and for China to reduce excess capacities, which have put pressure on European markets and led to the EU weighing measures.

The family of Chinese journalist Gao Yu pushed for inclusion on the discussion docket, asking Merkel to back allowing the 71-year-old to travel to Germany for medical treatment for heart trouble. Despite multiple aid offers from Germany, 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, Michael Brand, the German chair of the parliamentary committee on human rights, also joined in asking Merkel to address civil rights matters, saying she should denounce Beijing's attacks on basic freedoms during the trip.

"Dialogue is absolutely important, but dialogue is not an end in itself," said Brand, a member of Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party.

"When partners like China, Russia or Turkey cross red lines, the [German] federal government must show a stop sign that will also be understood as such," Brand said.

Beijing refused to issue Brand a visa in May because he had not obeyed a demand from the Chinese ambassador in Berlin to remove articles about Tibet that were critical of China from his home page.

Last update: Sat, 11/06/2016 - 16:29

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