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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Merkel and German business delegation in Beijing to meet Chinese leaders

German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits the FAW-Volkswagen production plant in Chengdu in the southwestern province of Sichuan, China Sunday, July 6, 2014. (AP Photo) CHINA OUT

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German Chancellor Angela Merkel visits the FAW-Volkswagen production plant in Chengdu in the southwestern province of Sichuan, China Sunday, July 6, 2014. (AP Photo) CHINA OUT

BEIJING, China - Economic and business ties between China and Germany are expected to dominate Monday discussions between Chinese leaders and Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is visiting Beijing with a large business delegation.

On her seventh visit to China as chancellor, Merkel will meet Premier Li Keqiang on Monday morning, then attend a meeting of the China-Germany Economic and Trade Commission. In the evening, she will meet with President Xi Jinping, who visited Berlin in March.

The pair are not strangers. In March, Xi visited Germany and the two oversaw the signing of deals including agreements for automakers Daimler and BMW to deepen ties with their Chinese partners.

Hailing Merkel's visit, China's official news agency Xinhua said in a commentary Sunday that "China-Germany relations are at their best in history ... strongly underpinned by the pragmatic co-operation between the two economic heavyweights." It pointed out that Germany is China's largest trading partner in Europe, while China is Germany's biggest in the Asia-Pacific region.

Merkel touched down Sunday in Chengdu city in southwest China, where she met members of a German-Chinese dialogue forum, attended a forum on urbanization co-operation between the local province and Germany, and visited a Volkswagen production plant which employs about 7,300 people.

On Tuesday, she will give a speech to students at Beijing's Tsinghua University.

China and Germany, two of the world's leading exporters, had a bilateral trade volume last year of 140.4 billion euros ($193 billion) — making China Germany's No. 3 trade partner, ahead of the United States.

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