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  • Dec 29, 2014
  • Updated: 3:38am
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Germany refuses Xi Jinping's request to visit Holocaust memorial sites during tour of Europe

Beijing wanted trip to be part of Xi's itinerary this month

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 05 March, 2014, 1:08pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 March, 2014, 5:51pm

Germany has declined two Chinese requests to include Holocaust memorial sites in the official itinerary of President Xi Jinping, who is due to pay a state visit to Europe’s largest economy at the end of the month, a German magazine reported.

Citing government sources, the magazine Der Spiegel said on Tuesday that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government wanted “no part of the East Asian propaganda war” amid rising tensions between China and Japan over the legacy of the war in East Asia.

Beijing planned to make that a key theme of Xi’s trip in an effort to contrast Germany’s atonement for war crimes with Japan’s ambivalent stance.

Merkel’s government declined to include a visit to the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin’s largest Holocaust memorial, in the itinerary, Der Spiegel said.

Merkel’s government also declined a Chinese request for a joint visit by Xi and Merkel to the Neue Wache, another war memorial in Berlin.

Xi was, however, welcome to visit the memorials on his own, the sources told the German magazine.

Agreeing to the Chinese request could have upset Japan, said Dr Stephen Nagy, assistant professor at the Department of Japanese Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Chancellor Merkel "has delicate balance to walk", he said. "Japan and Germany have deep and broad economic relations, but the German business community also sees a necessity to maintain strong links with Chinese consumers.”

In December, Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe further antagonised China by visiting the Yasukuni Shrine in downtown Tokyo, which honours Japan's war-dead, including 14 class-A war criminals convicted by the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal in 1947. 

Abe's was the first visit to the shrine by a Japanese prime minister in seven years. It came only months after Abe was photographed on a training jet emblazoned with the number 731, which evoked memories of a Japanese biological and chemical warfare research facility that carried out lethal human experiments in China during the war.

The visit to Berlin will be part of Xi’s first trip to the European Union as head of state. He is expected to participate at the Nuclear Security Summit on March 24 in The Hague in the Netherlands, along with US President Barack Obama.

Xi will then continue his trip to visit Germany, France and Belgium, where he is set to meet the EU leadership.

He last visited Germany as vice president in 2009. Merkel last visited China in 2012.

Then Chinese premier Wen Jiabao visited Auschwitz, the site of Germany’s largest second world war death camp, in Poland in 2012, calling the Holocaust an “unforgettable, dark page in the history of humankind”.

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This article is now closed to comments

longpan
The title is confusing. and should be amended As written in the article, Xi is welcome to visit the different sites on his own, like any person is welcome to visit these places. But Merkel refuses to include these visits in the official schedule, meaning that she does not want to hold Xi's hand in front of a war memorial.
globallaw
Japan is hardly the point here. China is credited with having killed up to 70 million people under Mao's rule. That pales compared to the 6 million jews of the Holocaust. Given that China never clearly acknowledged it, you certainly don't won't them to get kind of a cheap certificate of good morals by visiting Holocaust sites. Japan is a side issue compared to that.
HiggsSinglet
IMO, that is the right decision!!!
chaz_hen
Maybe he can go tour Hitler's bunker and see how a fellow dictator lived?
crbfile
THIS COMMENTER IS THE ONLY ONE WHO GOT THE POINT! THANK YOU LONGPAN!
rawlie
Textbooks are whitewashed throughout East Asia, and indeed the REST OF THE WORLD! I don't remember much mention of the Irish famines and the suppression of the Mau Mau's in Kenya during my history lessons at school in the UK. Likewise, I'm sure the agricultural reforms of the 'great leap forward' or the massacres of the Taiping Revolution are an indelible part of the Chinese curriculum.
Senator William L. Marcy's famous phrase, 'To the victor belong the spoils' can be reimagined in this context as, 'To the victor belong the right to tell the story of their victory'. This is the reason why everyone gets so upset with Japan... they lost, yet still tell it their way, whereas Germany have shown just about the correct amount of penitence for the behaviour of the Nazis.
Still, it's good to see China standing behind their convictions and not buying Japanese products or accommodating Japanese companies on the mainland... Oh wait!
aplucky1
no visit was suppressed
japan did not keep ANY monuments to the atrocities they committed in place, the germans did
u hate japan we get it, do not paint germany with the same **** off brush
aplucky1
good move germany

great country, china can learn a lot from the germans
whymak
globallaw:
70 million? Why not 1 billion? Your confusion is due to rectal cells finding their way to the cerebellum. You should get an MRI pronto. I doubt if any neurologist or proctologist could do anything about your condition.
GinsbergLLC
Shame on Germany and shame again on Japan:
Japan has never really acknowledged their war crimes. The truth is suppressed. Textbooks are "whitewashed." Academics who try to teach the truth have their careers destroyed.
For Japan to honor war criminals is unbelievable. But having traveled there, and understanding their other nationalistic rascist policies, it is not surprising. The issue with Japan is that the underlying beliefs which allowed the attrocities during World War II still exist in Japan today.
It was proper for China to seek to visit a Holocaust memorial. Shame on Germany for suppressing that visit. And shame on Japan for having so much to hide.

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