China is a key trading and investment partner, especially given the European debt crisis. But German officials say they will address human rights during Premier Wen Jiabao's visit.
China is one of Germany’s most important trading partners. It is also a powerful investor that could help some of Europe’s debt-stricken economies. And just before the start of the tour, China released the dissidents Ai Weiwei and Hu Jia, a move that is being interpreted in Berlin as a sign of goodwill on Beijing’s part.
“The Chinese have shown in the past that they have good timing for symbolic gestures,” says Eberhard Sandschneider of the German Institute for Foreign Affairs. “But let’s not forget that the charges against Ai Weiwei have not been dropped yet.”