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BEIJING – German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Chinese youth on Tuesday to help protect the environment and conserve energy, telling a group of elite university students that sustainability does not have to come at the cost of economic growth and can ensure a better world.
In a speech at Tsinghua University in Beijing, one of China's top universities, Merkel said it does not make sense to separate economic performance, environmental protection and social responsibility.
"Sustainable development does not sacrifice economic growth. This is a misunderstanding. Sustainable development gives us a new opportunity to create wealth," Merkel said at the end of a three-day visit to China, where she helped open an urbanization forum, met with Chinese leaders and promoted German enterprises.
On Monday, Merkel criticized industrial spying during a news conference with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, but did not single out China in her comments.
On Tuesday, she turned to the issue of sustainability when speaking at Tsinghua, saying developing countries such as China and India, need to work together to make the global economy more sustainable. She offered partnerships with German enterprises in working toward that goal.
But technology alone will not be the solution, as Merkel said rule of law, free dialogue and democracy are essential to building a better, sustainable society. "It's important that citizens believe in the power of law, instead of the law of the powerful," she said.
She took several questions from Chinese students, who asked her about her experience as a female chancellor, her switch from a research scientist to a politician as well as her passion for the German national soccer team, which is set to meet the host country Brazil in a World Cup semifinal.
"It's important to watch the game and support the team tonight," Merkel said.