Former premier Wen Jiabao met visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel for breakfast yesterday on the final day of German leader's three-day visit to China.
In her speech at Tsinghua University, Merkel revealed that the two discussed Germany's semi-final match at the Fifa World Cup, which kicked off early this morning.
When asked to comment on the game by a Tsinghua University student, Merkel said that Wen remarked that there might be more fans in China following the match than in Germany.
"Up to 100 million Chinese could watch the game, which is more than the total population of Germany," Merkel said, triggering loud laugher among students. But the dedicated soccer fan, who frequently attends the German national squad's matches, admitted that it would very hard to beat host nation Brazil.
With the exception of former president Jiang Zemin , retired state leaders traditionally decline diplomatic activities. It is first such meeting for Wen since he retired in March last year. Wen and Merkel are said to have developed a friendly relationship during previous meetings.
Former leaders, including Wen, occasionally make public appearances such as book launches or visits to their hometowns or alma maters, usually - analysts say - to counter rumours about their health or political fate. The Wen-Merkel meeting also comes amid reports that Wen's family has accumulated massive wealth.
Jiang held high-profile meetings with former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger in July last year in Shanghai and with visiting Russian President Vladimir Putin in Shanghai in May.
This was Merkel's seventh trip to China as chancellor. Wen, who served from 2003 to 2013, preceded Premier Li Keqiang .
As the second- and fourth-largest economies in the world, China and Germany have developed a close trading partnership since 2011, when Wen and Merkel led their nations' first intergovernmental consultations in Berlin to boost bilateral relations and map out long-term cooperation.