Profile: German Chancellor Angela Merkel
BEIJING, July 14 (Xinhua) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel starts a four-day visit to China Thursday, her fourth trip here and third since becoming chancellor in 2005.
Merkel's visit will bring new cooperation opportunities for the two sides and push bilateral ties to a new stage.
Merkel's visit, from July 15 to 18, will continue the sound development momentum of bilateral ties as evidenced by frequent high-level contacts between the two sides since early this year.
In April, Merkel held a meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao during the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington. A month later, then German President Horst Koehler made a state visit to China at the invitation of Hu.
Leaders of the two sides have also maintained close contact through various ways such as hotline. The frequent high-level exchanges between China and Germany play a positive role in promoting the sound development of their relations.
A closer tie between China and Germany is in line with the interests of the two nations.
China is Germany's biggest trading partner in Asia, while Germany is China's leading trading partner in Europe.
Last year, despite the economic downturn, bilateral trade topped 105.73 billion U.S. dollars, accounting for more than a quarter of the total China-Europe trade volume.
According to German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Germany's exports to China rose by 7 percent last year. The rise contrasted with an 18 percent overall decline in exports from the biggest economy in Europe.
Trade and economic issues are expected to dominate Merkel's upcoming China visit. A German official revealed Tuesday that Merkel's entourage included senior officials of many large German enterprises in such sectors as energy, automobiles, chemicals, finance and retail trade as well as representatives of small and medium-sized enterprises.