German Chancellor Angela Merkel faces a delicate balancing act when she visits China next week to forge unity on Iran and bolster bilateral economic ties, while delivering unwelcome messages on human rights and piracy.
Merkel travels to China on Sunday for a two-day visit that takes her to Beijing and Shanghai. She is due to hold talks with Premier Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao on her first trip to the country since replacing Gerhard Schroeder six months ago.
“Schroeder enjoyed excellent relations with China because he avoided pressuring or criticizing them,” said Kay Moeller, an Asia expert at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs in Berlin. “The Chinese government is likely to be more reserved toward Merkel, at least at the start.”
When in opposition, Merkel was critical of Schroeder’s efforts to scrap an EU arms embargo on Beijing that was put in place after the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown. In a coalition pact sealed late last year, her government vowed to “intensify” the dialogue with Beijing on democracy and human rights.