Economic ties between Germany and China are the focus of a high-level meeting Friday in Berlin between the two countries' governments.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang are expected to sign an accord aimed at expanding bilateral business ties between Europe and Asia's biggest economies.

But human rights, including the situation in Hong Kong, are also likely to come up. Students in the semi-autonomous city have been protesting for weeks against China's restrictions on the first direct election for Hong Kong's leader, promised by Beijing for 2017.

Merkel called Saturday for freedom of speech to be protected in Hong Kong, and German President Joachim Gauck on Thursday compared the protesters to those who stood up to East Germany's communist dictatorship in 1989.