Angela Merkel begins visit to China with trip to Sichuan wet market

German leader spices up latest mission to China with a tour of Chengdu's culinary hotspots

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 July, 2014, 7:33pm
UPDATED : Monday, 07 July, 2014, 7:36am

German Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel is slated to hold a formal meeting with Premier Li Keqiang today in Beijing, with economic ties topping the agenda of her visit.

Merkel, on her seventh visit to China since 2005, is expected to hold a joint press conference with Li after the meeting and will also attend the China-Germany Economic and Trade Commission before meeting President Xi Jinping.

Yesterday, she began the first full day of her visit with a stop at a wet market in Chengdu, Sichuan province.

The Sichuan Daily reported that Merkel stopped at a grocery in the Shenxianshu wet market and paid 5 yuan (H$6.20) for a bag of chilli bean paste.

"I shook hands with the German chancellor," vendor Wang Mingguang told the Daily. "She asked what was the best chilli bean paste in my store so I recommended some of the famous variety from Pixian." Merkel bought some more of the spicy condiment and whole chillis at other stores before checking the fresh produce, meat and pickled vegetable sections.

The visit lasted about 15 minutes and was followed by a trip to a well-known restaurant, Xinhua reported. Merkel observed a chef making a not-too spicy version of the popular local dish, kung pao chicken. The German leader was said to have good chopstick skills and continuously praised the dish, saying it was "very good" while inviting others to try it.

Merkel arrived in Beijing late yesterday and attended a dinner hosted by Li at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse