Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

When it comes to China, which side is Germany on? [Guardian] #RisingChina #Germany

China and Germany teach each other lessons on contemporary influence without brandishing hard power.

On the ground, however – In a 25-country poll by the BBC (44-page PDF) published in May 2013, German opinion on China was 13% positive vs 67% negative in 2013, a marked drop – from 42% positive vs 47% negative in 2012.

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When it comes to China, which side is Germany on?
Berlin’s ‘special relationship’ with Beijing means it is not keen for the EU to start a commercial war with the Asian giant
Source – The Guardian, published September 12, 2013

Angela Merkel is escorted by President Xi Jinping of China after their meeting at the G20 summit this month. Photograph: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

A long-running dispute between the EU and China over the prosaic, but economically significant, matter of solar panels has thrown up a fundamental question: which side is Germany on? The trade war concerned billions of pounds of Chinese panels that Europe suspected were being heavily subsidised and then “dumped” on the European market. Germany led the opposition to taking punitive action against the Chinese.

“What is certain is that the Germans have taken up almost word for word the rhetoric of the Chinese trade ministry,” said a European diplomat from one of the countries in favour of imposing sanctions on China.

There’s a paradox at play here: it is German manufacturers who wanted the European commission to look into the solar panel issue. But for the German leadership there are bigger matters to consider, not least the country’s burgeoning “special relationship” with the Asian powerhouse.

Please click here to read the entire article at the Guardian.

China is now Germany’s third largest trade partner, after France and the Netherlands. The German economy would have certainly been the first to suffer in the case of a commercial war: almost 50% of European exports to China come from Germany. China accounts for 7% of German exports.

The synergy between the two giants is known: the “factory of the world” imports useful German machine tools and technology. China also wants to replicate the German model of professional training. Chinese investment in Germany is also growing.

“At the stage where China is at the moment, it wants to learn from these German familial societies which have a long tradition of branding,” says Gao Zhikai, vice-president of Sino-Europe United Investment Corporation, an investment structure of the Chinese ministry of foreign affairs.

The acquisition in January 2012 by China’s Sany Group, of Putzmeister, a German manufacturer of concrete pumps, is presented as a case in point.

So when the Chinese want to talk to Europe, it is the Germans that they turn to. It was Angela Merkel who managed to convince them last year that the euro crisis could be overcome. When the new Chinese premier, Li Keqiang, came to Europe this summer, it was Germany and only Germany that he visited – a few days before a vote on whether to punish China for the solar panel dumping. Li signed many agreements with Berlin. Germany voted against the sanctions.

German diplomats maintain that Berlin is doing all it can to ensure that the narrow and privileged relationship it has with Beijing benefits the joint European position on China. And despite the friendship there seems to be between Germans and Chinese, Merkel is, without doubt, the European head of state who puts the most pressure on Beijing regarding human rights.

After the months of reciprocal sulking after the German leader’s meeting with the Dalai Lama in 2007, and then her absence at the opening ceremony of the Olympics in 2008, Merkel clearly found a way to combine economic efficiency and political pressures.

“They are defending human rights with vigour,” a French diplomat acknowledges, pointing to the mechanisms of dialogue on human rights and the rule of law established between the two governments. But, he added: “The Chinese are telling us that the Germans are less ideological than the EU.”

Filed under: Automotive, Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Culture, Domestic Growth, Economics, Education, Ethnicity, Germany, Government & Policy, High Speed Rail, Ideology, Influence, Intellectual Property, International Relations, Mapping Feelings, Modernisation, Peaceful Development, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Resources, Soft Power, Solar, Strategy, Tao Guang Yang Hui (韬光养晦), Technology, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, Trade, Transport

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