BERLIN, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel will prepare to bow out following Germany's federal election scheduled for Sunday after steering the country as well as Europe for 16 years.
By and large, Merkel has inherited the pragmatic cooperation doctrine towards China, a policy started and well maintained by her predecessors Helmut Kohl and Gerhard Schroeder, to which her 12 visits to China as German chancellor are a testament.
Merkel made her first trip to China in 1997, when she served under Kohl as federal minister of environment, nature conservation and nuclear safety.
After becoming chancellor, Merkel left her footprints all over China, having been to Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, Xi'an, Guangzhou, Tianjin, Chengdu, Hefei, Hangzhou, Shenyang, Shenzhen and Wuhan.
Anecdotes of her visits have shown Merkel is willing to know more about China.
When visiting Nanjing in August 2007, she took the initiative on a rainy evening to take a walk on the city wall built in the 14th century.
In her official trip to Chengdu in July 2014, Merkel learned making Kungpao Chicken, a traditional Chinese dish. She also bought some broad bean paste, Sichuan pepper powder and star anises, which are essentials for making local delicacies.
On probably her last trip as chancellor to China in September 2019, Merkel asked her motorcade to make a brief stop on Wuhan's Yangtze River Bridge, looking far into the waves and posing for photos.
WITNESS TO CHINA'S DEVELOPMENT
Merkel has been a witness to China's rapid development over the past decade.
During Merkel's first several visits to China, her priority was to promote "Made in Germany." But in recent years, bringing Chinese cooperation projects back to Germany has topped her agenda.
In May 2006, half a year after taking office, Merkel visited Shanghai and took the demonstrative line of a maglev train which used Siemens technology.
Now, China is selling world-class locomotives to Germany and Austria.
In May 2018, on a tour in Shenzhen, Merkel visited several companies developing drones, autonomous driving, and processing data.
She was very surprised by the speed of China's development in the cutting-edge industries.
"Sino-German cooperation must be raised to a new level, especially from a perspective of digitalization," Merkel later said in her speech.
Before Merkel took office, Beijing and Berlin established in 2004 a partnership with global responsibility within the framework of the China-European Union (EU) comprehensive strategic partnership. During Merkel's third term, the relationship was further upgraded to a comprehensive strategic partnership.
Merkel's pragmatic attitude towards China has played an important role in tightening bilateral ties, which were highlighted at the two G20 summits in 2016 and 2017, held in China and Germany respectively, with a focus on topics such as climate change and global trade growth.
In Hangzhou and Hamburg, both famous for their bridges, the two countries vowed to build bridges of cooperation and promote prosperity and development together.
In recent years, Merkel's line for dealing with China has been under constant pressure from within and outside Germany.
However, she is well aware that cooperation is vital to Germany's economic interests, and that without China's participation, Germany, the EU and the entire international community cannot cope with global challenges such as climate change and unilateralism.
"On some issues, we have different views ... but the EU and China should continue their dialogue and set a model for multilateralism," Merkel once told Xinhua in a press conference. Enditem