Merkel to focus on climate, business in China, Japan
BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel will push for tougher global action against climate change on a tour of China and Japan next week which will also have business interests high on the agenda, officials said on Thursday.
The visit will be Merkel's second to China as Chancellor and her first to Japan and comes four months before world environment ministers meet in Bali, Indonesia to try to launch new talks to extend the Kyoto Protocol beyond 2012.
"The aim of the trip to China is to deepen relations. In particular, we have possibilities for closer cooperation on the environment, energy efficiency, green technology and innovation," said a government official.
Merkel has used her presidency of the Group of Eight industrialized nations this year to push world nations to do more to fight climate change, and she wants to do more.
"In the remaining months of her presidency and ahead of Bali she wants to continue work on climate," said a second official.
At a June summit, chaired by Merkel, G8 leaders agreed to pursue substantial, if unspecified cuts, in greenhouse gases and work with the U.N. on a new deal to fight global warming.
The Kyoto Protocol obliges 35 rich nations to cut greenhouse gas emissions but developing nations, including China, have no targets. China will overtake the United States by 2008 as the world's leading emitter of greenhouse gases.
Another priority on her trip will be business.
China is overtaking the United States as the world's second-biggest exporter and steadily catching up with Germany, the world's biggest, noted officials.
With exports to Germany of almost 49 billion euros ($66.42 billion) in 2006, China comes third among countries exporting to Germany -- yet only 3 percent of German exports go to China.
"There are enormous economic possibilities in China, there is huge growth potential," said one of the officials.
A delegation of business leaders will accompany Merkel and deals will be signed in a range of sectors, said the officials who declined to give any details. German carmakers and engineering companies are already active in China.
Officials were tight-lipped on whether plans to extend the Transrapid, a high-speed magnetic levitation train, would be discussed. The line, a venture between Germany's ThyssenKrupp and Siemens, already runs from Shanghai to its airport.
Germans are wary about China's growing economic might and Juergen Thumann, head of the BDI German Industry Association, took issue with the intellectual property rights situation.
"German technology must be protected abroad as it is at home. Innovative companies must be able to work with Chinese partners without rules about "voluntary" technology transfer," he wrote in Friday's Handelsblatt newspaper.
Merkel arrives in China on Monday and will meet President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and cultural and civil rights groups.
She heads to Japan on Wednesday where she will also address climate change and economic issues. She will have talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and an audience with Emperor Akihito.