Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrives in Berlin, Germany, May 31, 2017. Li is in Berlin to attend an annual meeting between the Chinese premier and German chancellor, a mechanism that has been in place since 2004. (Xinhua/Rao Aimin)
BERLIN, May 31 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived here Wednesday for an official visit to Germany.
Li will join German chancellor Angela Merkel for an annual meeting between the two heads of government, a mechanism that has been in place since 2004.
Upon arrival, Li said the past 45 years since China and Germany forged diplomatic ties have seen their relations grow steadily. Against a backdrop of sluggish world economic recovery as well as rising protectionism and a de-globalization trend, the two countries have found it ever more important to step up communication and cooperation.
"I'm here to consolidate and develop our friendship, and to innovate and upgrade the bilateral cooperation," Li said. "We are expected to promote bilateral ties and cooperation to a new high in the spirit of mutual respect and equality, so as to benefit both peoples and contribute to regional and world stability, cooperation and development."
During the stay, Li and Merkel will meet on several occasions, witness the signing of various cooperation documents, meet the press together, attend and address a forum on innovation cooperation and have a dialogue with business people from both sides.
The premier will also meet with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
Berlin is the first leg of Li's three-day Europe tour that will also take him to Belgium.
In Brussels, the Chinese premier will co-chair the 19th China-EU leaders' meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, and pay an official visit to Belgium.
It is Li's ninth trip to Europe and third visit to Germany as premier. While Merkel is a frequent visitor to China, both Juncker and Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel visited China last year.
Such frequent high-level exchanges between China and the EU testify the common grounds and interests shared by the two sides despite an ever-changing international landscape, and showcase their common desire for cooperation and development.
The visit took place as Europe has witnessed frequent high-level diplomacy recently.
During U.S. President Donald Trump's just concluded visit to Europe last week, the two sides saw their rifts on defense, trade and climate change widened.
Tusk admitted the EU is still at odds with the United States over issues like climate and trade.