BEIJING Jan 15 German Foreign Minister Guido
Westerwelle urged China to show more respect for human rights on
Friday but said differences of opinion on this issue should not
hinder trade ties between the world's two biggest exporters.
Westerwelle, on his first trip to China since taking office
last October, said he had addressed Germany's concerns about
China's position on freedom of opinion, human rights and the
protection of minorities in a meeting with his Chinese
counterpart Yang Jiechi.
"The German government's engagement for human rights and
civil rights is not abstract but very concrete," he said. "Tibet
and the protection of cultural minorities were also topics we
discussed, and over which we had differences of opinion."
Tibet is a sensitive subject for Western leaders to broach
with China, which views the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai
Lama, as a separatist.
It took months for China to forgive German Chancellor Angela
Merkel for meeting the spiritual leader back in 2007.
Westerwelle said Yang explained the Chinese stance on the
Internet and the role of search giant Google (GOOG.O).
Yang said China opposed hackers attacking the Internet but
the government had a duty to protect social stability and to
prevent its citizens from physical or psychological injury.
China sought on Friday to play down a threat by Google to
quit the country on hacking and censorship concerns, saying any
decision by the company would not affect U.S. trade ties.
Westerwelle and Yang said they agreed to foster relations
between Germany and China, saying that differences of opinion
over human rights would not affect trade ties.
The two countries are the biggest exporters of goods in the
world and their economies rely heavily on trade.
"It was quite clear that our engagement for human rights and
also for export opportunities for the German economy were not at
odds," Westerwelle said. "Instead they were very compatible."
(Reporting by Sabine Siebold, Writing by Sarah Marsh; Editing by