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Tuesday May 23, 2006

China, Germany agree on technology transfer for new maglev train


SHANGHAI (AP) - Beijing and Berlin have agreed on technology transfer and other issues for China's second commercial magnetic-levitation train, a euro4 billion (US$4.8 billion) line linking Shanghai with a nearby city, state media said Tuesday. 

The report, released during a visit to China by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, said key work was awarded to German companies but didn't give any details.  

It didn't say whether any other issues remained to be resolved or when construction would begin. 

German Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee, traveling with Merkel, told reporters that German companies would retain "core technology'' for the maglev.  

He said discussions right now cover the system's technological details. 

On Tuesday, Merkel was scheduled to visit Shanghai and ride the world's only commercially operating maglev railway, a German-built line that links one of the city's airports with its financial district. 

The Chinese government said in March that it would add a maglev line linking Shanghai to Hangzhou, about 200 kilometers (125 miles) away - a short trip for a train that will travel as fast as 450 kph (280 mph). 

But before the latest announcement, China had not said what role foreign contractors might play. 

Germany's Siemens AG will "transfer technology'' for power supply and control systems for the new line, while ThyssenKrupp AG provides technology for making the cars, railroad switches and other parts, the official Xinhua News Agency said. 

It cited comments by Wu Xiangming, director of China's National Maglev Transportation Technology Research Center, at a Chinese-German technology forum held during Merkel's visit. 

Merkel is leading a 40-member trade delegation that includes business executives and German Economy Minister Michael Glos and Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee. 

On Tuesday, Merkel met with President Hu Jintao and said they agreed that Iran should not have the capability to build nuclear weapons or proliferate weapons of mass destruction. 

But Merkel, who also met Premier Wen Jiabao, didn't say whether the two sides discussed possible sanctions on Tehran. Germany supports sanctions and Beijing does not. 

China, a permanent U.N. Security Council member, and a bloc of European countries, including Germany, are at odds over how to get Tehran to give up its nuclear programme. 

When asked about China's compliance with piracy laws - an area of concern for Germany - Wen responded, "We've made a lot of efforts, but on intellectual property rights we still face many problems.'' 

The German leader said she and Wen also discussed human rights, which she called "an important issue of bilateral dialogue.'' 

In Shanghai, Merkel was due to meet with a bishop of the government-back Roman Catholic church, which has no relations with the Vatican, in an effort to focus attention on religious freedom under the country's communist leadership. 

Bishop Jin Luxian was imprisoned for 27 years after the communist takeover but was rehabilitated after the 1976 death of Mao Zedong. 

He belongs to the state-sanctioned Catholic church, but is pushing for China to develop stronger ties with the Vatican.

For Another perspective from the China Daily, a partner of Asia News Network, click here

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