Will Köhler speak for Hu and Liu?

President Horst Köhler is a soft-spoken man, even when he tries to appear combative, in domestic debates. In May 2009, Germany’s president got re-elected for a second five-year term by the Federal Convention – a combination of members of the federal parliament (Bundestag) and another number of representatives elected by the regional parliaments of the single federal states. When travelling abroad, he usually spreads a fairly good Qi.

Just the man to travel to Beijing where he is scheduled to arrive later today. But he will have to put some strains on the good good vibes next week if he wants to be true to his own standards.

Liu Xia, Liu Xiaobo‘s wife, and Zeng Jinyan, Hu Jia‘s wife, have reportedly asked Köhler to advocate their husbands’ release from prison. Köhler is due to meet China’s party and state chairman Hu Jintao on Monday, and chief state councillor Wen Jiabao on Tuesday. On Wednesday, he will take part in the Shanghai Expo’s German National Pavillon Day. Closer cooperation in the fields of climate change and the global financial crisis will also play a role.

“Human rights must always be respected and be considered the most important matter worldwide,” German newsagency dpa quotes Zeng Jinyan. “China is much more open than in the past. We are making progress in a number of fields. But the persecution of those who advocate human rights never subsides.”

“It could be helpful if Köhler would bring Hu Jia’s case up,” Zeng reportedly said. Her husband was suffering from chronical hepatitis, and possibly liver cancer. After her petitions for a release and medical treatment outside prison had been turned down, she rated chances for such a solution as poor, writes dpa.

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