Final China-German summit under Merkel promises future cooperation

High-level talks between Germany and China have concluded with the promise that the two nations would continue their close economic and political cooperation, despite disagreements on human rights issues and Hong Kong. 

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang spoke via videolink with Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is stepping down in September after 16 years at the helm of Germany's government.

"These will be my final intergovernmental consultations," Merkel said. "But I hope it's not the last government consultations between China and Germany."

Wednesday's summit included 25 members of Merkel's cabinet and is likely to be the last time Merkel's government engages in such high-level diplomacy with China before she leaves office. 

Berlin and Beijing have increasingly found common ground on climate change, healthcare, and food safety issues - Yet, the bond is cemented firmly by economic cooperation. 

Trade agreements have given German firms like Audi, Siemens, and Deutsche Bank access to the large Chinese market. 

China has overtaken the US as Germany's largest trading partner. Even amid the pandemic, exports to China have grown at a double digit pace.

A new trade agreement which was signed by the EU and China in early January was the result of months of negotiations during Merkel's European Council Presidency.

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