Xi, Merkel Bond Over Panda Diplomacy in Prelude to G-20 Summit

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Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for expanded trade between the two nations, taking a joint stand before the Group of 20 summit during a day of panda diplomacy in Berlin.
Two days before Merkel hosts other G-20 leaders in Hamburg, Xi’s stop in the German capital underscored the bond between the world’s No.
3 merchandise exporters as they step into the global leadership gap left by President Donald Trump’s administration.
“German-Chinese relations stand before a new beginning, for which we need new breakthroughs,” Xi said alongside Merkel in Berlin after the two oversaw the signing of agreements between China and companies including Siemens AG, Airbus SE and Daimler AG.
Berlin will later play host to the ultimate Chinese gesture of tightening relations in an environment buffeted by geopolitical risk: the panda handover.
China gave two pandas to the U.
in 1972, after President Richard Nixon made his historic first visit to Communist China.
Two Chinese giant pandas will have their official coming-out at the Berlin zoo in a ceremony attended by Xi and Merkel and broadcast live.
 Jiao Ping and his female companion Meng Meng were pre-flown to Berlin in June and honored with a brand-new panda pavilion.
After what the zoo calls a moment of “panda fever,” the two leaders plan to attend a game of youth soccer, a nod to Xi’s push to make China a power in the world’s most popular sport.
New Phase Germany and China are bonding over shared goals of free trade and curbing climate change.
Merkel said she’ll seek to move along talks between China and the European Union on the former’s trade status and called for progress toward an investment accord that could in time lead to a free-trade agreement.
German-Chinese relations have been repositioned, Xi said.
Merkel said Germany is ready to participate in Xi’s Belt and Road initiative to upgrade trade links along the ancient Silk Road across Asia.
Deals signed in the two leaders’ presence include a Chinese order for Airbus A320 aircraft and expanded cooperation between German carmaker Daimler AG and China’s BAIC Motor Corp.
The Merkel-Xi moment contrasts with the two-day G-20 summit starting on Friday in Hamburg, Germany’s busiest commercial port, which the chancellor has said will suffer “discord.
” “There will be difficult talks on a range of topics,” Steffen Seibert, Merkel’s spokesman, told reporters in Berlin on Wednesday.
“There are all kinds of cliffs to navigate around.

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