German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday that she was concerned about the territorial dispute between the Chinese and US navies in the South China Sea and suggested that China resolve the dispute in international courts.
During her two-day visit to China, Merkel said trade routes should have remained open despite the dispute, which grew after a US warship challenged China’s territorial assertions in the disputed waters this week.
"The territorial dispute in the South China Sea is a serious conflict. I am always a bit surprised why in this case multinational courts should not be an option for a solution," Merkel said in speech in Beijing.
"Nevertheless, we wish that the sea trade routes stay free and safe, because they are important for all."
On Tuesday, Beijing also rebuked Washington for sending a guided-missile destroyer within 12 nautical miles of one of China’s man-made islands in the Spratly archipelago. It had followed and warned the USS Lassen (destroyer) and urged the US ambassador to protest.
Trade was on the top of Merkel’s agenda during her China trip. She was keen to support German business interests damaged by Volkswagen’s emissions scandal and deals clinched during Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Britain last week.
China and Germany signed a deal that will see Chinese airlines buy 130 jets produced by European planemaker Airbus Group SE. Merkel also stated that Germany and China were ready to sign a deal to prevent from industrial spying.
"We want to sign an agreement that both sides abstain from industrial espionage," Merkel said, explaining that the United States and Britain have already signed a deal with China.
"We want to follow quickly," she added. "We are happy that China is willing to do that.”
Merkel’s trip came a year after agreeing on an innovation partnership deal with China to develop business ties. China want to use this partnership to tap German know-how for technological developments.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said China wanted to learn from Germany’s industrial capabilities.
"The Chinese government will continue to firmly promise to protect intellectual property, and firmly oppose the theft of commercial secrets," he said.
"We both hope and believe that we should start, as soon as possible, a feasibility study on China-EU free trade area negotiations, and work to establish a China-EU free trade area."
Merkel and Li earlier mentioned about the conflict in Syria saying jointly that there must be a political solution to the crisis there.