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International relations

German parliament panel cancels China trip over lawmaker travel ban

Beijing picks fight with what could become Germany's next ruling party

German Green Party member Margarete Bause, right, meets dissident Chinese artist Ai Weiwei at the airport in Munich, Germany, in this July 2015 photo.    © Reuters

HAMBURG, Germany -- The digital committee of Germany's parliament has effectively called off a planned trip to China over Beijing's insistence that a Green party lawmaker be removed from the participants list because of her strong stance on the Asian power's human rights record.

Margarete Bause, the Alliance 90/The Greens' caucus speaker for human rights policy, in a recent interview with the Nikkei Asian Review said she supported the crafting of regulations banning any company "be it Chinese or German" involved in human rights abuses from public procurement deals in Germany.

"China increasingly employs a 'divide and conquer' strategy and exerts pressure, but we parliamentarians must not allow others to divide us," Bause told the Nikkei in a separate interview on Friday,

In a news conference on Monday, China's Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying justified the ban on Bause by saying she is a member of the Bundestag's human rights committee who tried to sneak into China as a member of the digitization panel. China had earlier rejected a planned visit by the human rights committee.

"As a sovereign country and host, China has the right to reject uninvited people," Hua said. "China surely doesn't welcome anyone that has been lobbying on behalf of anti-China forces and harming China's interests."

The souring ties between Beijing and Germany's Greens are potentially significant for the overall trajectory of Sino-German relations. Recent opinion polls show that the party has a good chance of becoming the ruling party in the next elections in two years, or if a split in Chancellor Angela Merkel's shaky coalition government leads to a snap poll.

The canceled trip may also have repercussions for Huawei Technologies's quest to restore much-needed trust among German politicians, as the committee had been scheduled to meet the Chinese tech giant.

Germany has to date rejected U.S. calls for a ban on Huawei's 5G equipment over security concerns.

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