German economy minister Sigmar Gabriel's talks with Chinese government officials in Beijing have been marked by tensions over corporate takeovers, after Gabriel put the brakes on a Chinese bid for a German technology firm. Ivor Bennett reports.
Unfortunately this is all we'll see of Sigmar Gabriel's talks with China's Prime Minister. But even this is enough to show you it wasn't a meeting of old friends. The German economy minister's visit to Beijing coming just a week after he withdrew support for the latest Chinese takeover bid for a German firm. SOUNDBITE (English) SIMON FRENCH, CHIEF ECONOMIST, PANMURE GORDON, SAYING: "In the current political environment where there is a push back against globalisation, I think he needs to be playing to the gallery given that there is a German election in 2017." But now he's in China, the gallery's very different. Gabriel insisting the atmosphere of an earlier meeting with China's trade minister was 'very good'. That perhaps following a script from Berlin. (SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN STEFFEN SEIBERT, SAYING: "The whole government is convinced that it is right that the market is open to investments from abroad, including from China." To begin with, at least, the charm offensive seemed to work. China issuing its own conciliatory statement, addressing German concerns that the relationship was only one way. But Gabriel's absence from a later engagement in China has fuelled speculation of a row. No such problem for France though Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault got a smile to go with his handshake when the two countries announced a new joint investment fund. (SOUNDBITE) (French) FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER JEAN-MARC AYRAULT SAYING: "It's a very good example of what we're going to do together, to win contracts in third markets and in all sectors." If France does have concerns, it wasn't airing them. Their need for foreign investment perhaps more acute.