German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday stressed the importance of rule of law in China as a basis for cooperation between the two countries.
"It is always important that our companies and also our cooperation projects have a safe rule-based environment," Merkel said at the opening of talks in the fourth Sino-German joint cabinet meeting in Beijing.
"The dialogue on rule by law as well as the human rights dialogue are of great importance," she said. "Many legal areas are affected, including for consumers and public institutions."
Merkel's visit comes amid an ongoing crackdown on the country's human rights activists and lawyers.
Since last summer, more than 300 human rights lawyers and activists from across China have been detained, summoned by police or have disappeared, according to the Hong Kong-based China Human Rights Lawyers Concern Group.
Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and four other ministers were among the German delegates to the meeting, opened by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
The meetings happen every two years. This year's was expected to focus on global security hotspots, bilateral trade relations, China's potential classification as a market economy, and Beijing's recent clampdown on legislation governing non-governmental organizations.
China's legislature in April passed a controversial law that places foreign non-governmental groups under the direct supervision of security authorities.
Merkel arrived Sunday for the three-day visit. On Sunday she visited a university in Beijing and received an honorary doctorate. On Tuesday she was to visit Shenyang in north-east of the country.