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German Chancellor to Highlight Human Rights Issues in China Visit

On the visit of the first female German Chancellor to China, human rights issue is expected to come to spotlight along with some other topics such as piracy and trade.
( [email protected] ) May 22, 2006 08:25 AM EDT

On the visit of the first female German Chancellor to China, human rights issue is expected to come to spotlight along with some other topics such as piracy and trade.

Angela Merkel departed Sunday for a three-day trip and arrived in Beijing. She is due to hold talks with Premier Wen Jiabao and President Hu Jintao. According to Deutsche Presse-Agentur (DPA), Merkel is going to meet with some Chinese human rights activists at the German Embassy, including the author of the forbidden book "Zhongguo Nongmin Diaocha" in China.

The book draws controversy for it unveils the stories about the injustice faced by farmers in rural areas and the corruption of Chinese government officials. It is banned by the Chinese government within three months since it has been published in March 2004. However, the book has been very welcomed in some Western countries.

Merkel is to meet in Shanghai on Tuesday with Bishop Aloysius Jin Luxian of China's Catholic Church - an effort, German officials say, "to focus on religious freedom under the country's communist leadership," according to the Associated Press (AP). The 90-year-old Bishop Jin is an influential figure in the China’s Catholic Church and is recognized by the Vatican as well. Last year, he and three other bishops were invited by the Vatican to attend the international bishops’ conference, but the China’s Catholic Church has refused to send them.

Some German officials say that Merkey is a devout Christian and her father was a pastor, so she is very concerned about religious freedom in China. The key of this trip, they claimed, is to "observe the real situation in the Chinese society."

During the meeting of the three Chinese Christian activists with US president Bush on May 11 at the White House, they commented that German leaders "are not respected in China" because they have tried to avoid human issues so that they can enjoy economical benefits. Bush responded that he would call Merkel in person to urge her emphasize human rights issues.