The new leader of Germany, Angela Merkel, took a tough line against Beijing’s request to purchase European weapons. ‘Bout time the leadership of the EU saw the light….

Germany’s Christian Democrat leader Angela Merkel signalled a tougher stance towards China on Friday by refusing to support Beijing’s attempt to lift the European Union’s weapons embargo.

Ms Merkel did not discuss the embargo on Friday when she met Chinese president Hu Jintao on his three-day visit to Germany.

But she signalled that she would take a tougher stance towards the communist country than outgoing chancellor Gerhard Schröder. Aides to Ms Merkel said in future, the issue would be linked to human rights.

The Germans are finding out what American has already discovered, that there is a giant sucking sound out east….

Wolfgang Clement, outgoing economics minister, told his Chinese counterpart that while bilateral trade had expanded rapidly in recent years - reaching €53bn ($62bn) in 2004 - the balance “was becoming somewhat distorted”, with Chinese exports to Germany expanding by 26 per cent this year, but trade in the opposition direction shrinking 5 per cent. He called on China to open its markets more fully, intensify efforts to end product piracy and stop abuses of intellectual property rights.