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Last Updated: Monday, 27 August 2007, 18:01 GMT 19:01 UK
Merkel presses China on climate
Angela Merkel leaves plane at Beijing airport
Ms Merkel arrived in Beijing on Sunday night
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has urged China to address the issue of climate change, as she starts a three-day visit to the country.

But China said that it was still catching up economically, making it harder to reduce emissions.

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said developed nations have contributed more to climate change because they have been growing fast for 200 years.

China, which has boomed economically, has seen a sharp rise in pollution.

'Green hills'

As an economic powerhouse, China - which saw its stocks hit another record close Monday to 5,150.12 - has been much criticised for contributing to climate change.

But China says it should be allowed to grow economically as others have done already.

"The Chinese wish, like all people, for blue skies, green hills and clear water," Mr Wen said at a news conference.

He added: "China has taken part of the responsibility for climate change for only 30 years, while industrial countries have grown fast for the last 200 years," he said.

Ms Merkel has been keen to push climate change on the international agenda, and wants rapidly growing countries such as China to have a role in fighting global warming.

While China declared its first national plan to tackle climate change in June this year, it also said it would not want the problem addressed at the expense of economic development.

China is not obliged to meet targets that apply to developed nations under the UN-backed Kyoto protocol, which runs until 2012 and is the main international framework for reducing greenhouse emissions.

Ms Merkel's visit comes as hundreds of delegates in Vienna are addressing climate change.

Representatives from government, industry and science are gathered in the Austrian city for a five day meeting to debate how to reduce emissions.

'Computers hacked'

On the eve of Ms Merkel's arrival in China, Beijing rejected reports in a German news magazine that hackers with links to China's military had infiltrated German government computers.

Air pollution from a factory in north-eastern China
China's economy has grown but so too has its pollution problems

A foreign ministry spokesman in Beijing said that China "has always been against and strictly opposes the criminal action of hacking and harming computer systems".

The German government has not commented on reports in Der Spiegel which said that computers at the chancellery and three ministries had been infected with viruses.

According to the magazine, German's domestic intelligence agency believes hackers linked to China's People's Liberation Army might be behind the attacks.

Ms Merkel's visit to China coincides with the publication of a report saying that China needs to do more to improve protection of intellectual property and develop its technology.

Developing innovation is a prerequisite to escape from "a pattern of specialisation characterised by intensive low-skilled labour and natural resources," said the report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

It said enforcement of laws, especially locally, needed to be substantially improved.

It is also expected that Mrs Merkel will address human rights issues, notably in Sudan - an ally of China's - as well as intellectual property.

Ms Merkel is scheduled on Wednesday to head to Japan, which replaces Germany as the head of the G8 group of richest nations in 2008.

She is expected to meet Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo.

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