By Kathrin Hille and Joshua Chaffin, FT.com
August 31, 2012 -- Updated 0217 GMT (1017 HKT)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing on August 30, 2012
A contentious EU trade case targeting Chinese solar panel companies should be resolved through negotiations, Germany's chancellor said on Tuesday, reflecting Beijing's growing clout with its European trading partners.
Angela Merkel's reluctance to support a trade action instigated by a German company was communicated at a meeting in Beijing with Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, and appeared to put her on a collision course with Karel De Gucht, the EU trade commissioner who has taken a harder line against Beijing for what he contends are unfair trading practices.
Mr De Gucht is expected to open a formal investigation next week to determine whether Chinese manufacturers have dum
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