BERLIN (AP) — Chinese President Xi Jinping discussed economic and other issues with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday ahead of the Group of 20 summit. He also planned to check in on two giant pandas his country just sent to a Berlin zoo on loan.
The two leaders' meeting came as China announced that it would allow liver cancer experts from Germany, the U.S. and other countries to join a medical team treating imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo.
Neither Merkel nor Xi mentioned Liu in statements to media at the chancellery, and they took no questions. The chancellor did mention human rights in general terms, saying that they discussed the importance of a "strong civil society" and that the two countries "must continue intensively" their existing dialogue on human rights.
She also called for broader registration of research organizations under Chinese laws on nongovernmental organizations, and said there were "positive signals" on that front.
Merkel said she made clear that Germany wants to be treated equally on business matters and granted market access — "that is very important for our companies."
Xi's visit comes as China promotes it "Belt and Road" project, its biggest foreign initiative to date as Beijing looks for global stature to match its economic success. It calls for expanding trade across Asia, Africa and Europe with multibillion-dollar investments in ports, railways and other facilities.
Merkel said Germany has taken a positive view of the initiative. She said that "we would gladly participate in such projects, and hope for a transparent tendering process."
Xi said that "Chinese-German relations now face a new beginning, in which we need new breakthroughs."
The leaders planned later Thursday to go to the zoo to see pandas Meng Meng and Jiao Qing, who arrived June 24.
"I am convinced that these two can become new ambassadors of our friendship," Xi said.