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Schroeder Promotes Trade in China, Reassures Beijing on Arms Sales - 2001-11-01

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder is in China to promote trade and to talk about terrorism. He also promises not to sell weapons to Taiwan and is saying little about human rights.

Accompanied by a delegation of mostly business executives bent on promoting trade in the huge Chinese market, Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder says arms sales to Taiwan are one kind of trade Germany does not want. He says Germany will not sell submarines to Taiwan and has turned down such requests in the past.

Contracts worth up to $10 billion are set for signing during Mr. Schroeder's three-day trip.

Earlier, Chancellor Schroeder told journalists the slumping U.S. economy is hurting world trade, and makes it wise to develop bilateral trade with China.

Officials here say Germany is China's largest European trading and investment partner, with some $25 billion worth of trade last year.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao says commercial and political relations between Germany and China are very good.

Mr. Zhu says ties are developing fast with China, economically, culturally and in other ways. He says that with the international situation changing, it is in China's interest to promote bilateral relations.

German journalists say top German officials have tried to promote human rights on previous trips to China. This time, however, Mr. Schroeder is saying little about human rights in public, preferring to leave the matter to quiet diplomacy.

Germany recognizes the government in Beijing as the ruler of China, and maintains only informal relations with the island of Taiwan. The self-governing island is seeking submarines to bolster its small navy against its much stronger rival on the mainland.

Taiwan and China split politically in 1949 after civil war, and Beijing considers Taiwan a rebellious province.

China works hard to isolate the island diplomatically, and refused contracts to France for a year after Paris sold fighters to Taiwan in the early 1990's. It suspended diplomatic ties with the Netherlands after that country sold submarines to the island in the 1980's.