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Good economic cooperation

On the second day of her visit to China, the Chancellor gained a first hand impression of the close economic ties between Germany and China. At the Airbus plant in Tianjin she praised the "success story" of this cooperation.

Angela Merkel and Wen Jiabo shake hands with Airbus staff. Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Wen Jiabo visit the Airbus assembly plant in Tianjin. Photo: picture alliance / Kay Nietfeld

Forty years after diplomatic relations were established, cooperation between Germany and China is closer than ever. The fortieth anniversary is to be marked by a China Year in Germany and a wide spectrum of cultural events in both countries. This year Germany is to open a new Goethe-Institut and another Consulate General in China.

The first day of the Chancellor’s visit focussed on political talks within the framework of Sino-German government consultations. Angela Merkel underscored how important it is, "to ensure consistent structures in order to put our cooperation on a reliable, predictable footing." The Chancellor invited the next Chinese government to Berlin for the next round of consultations in 2014.

Angela Merkel was accompanied on her visit to China by seven ministers, two parliamentary state secretaries and a business delegation.

100th Airbus presented

The aeronautical industry is an excellent illustration of the good economic relations that exist between the two countries. The Chancellor saw the 100th Airbus produced in Tianjin. "This success story dates back to 2007," said Angela Merkel. "That was a milestone in Sino-German cooperation in civilian aeronautics."

The Airbus plant has a workforce of over 1,100. New orders are helping underpin its long-term survival.
China is the world’s second largest market for commercial aircraft. Airbus has a market share of almost 50 percent.

The Chancellor made her position on economic relations very clear. "China is Germany’s most important partner in Asia." Angela Merkel praised the dynamic development of economic ties, but it was also made clear that they are not without their difficulties. Problems should be resolved through discussions if at all possible, said the Chancellor. Protectionism cannot be the right response. "All of us depend on free trade." Current problems in the field of solar energy too should be resolved around a table and not in front of a court, she said. We should work with the European Commission to find a solution.

Economic relations between Germany and China are extremely close. Total trade in 2011 was worth 144 billion euros, which was 11 percent up on 2010. No other European-Asian trading links are worth more. German investments in China alone are currently worth 26 billion euros.

Talks about the euro

One important item on the agenda of talks between Angela Merkel and Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao was the situation within the euro zone. The Chancellor outlined progress made on reforms within euro-zone states and stressed that the euro zone has the political will to restore confidence in the currency. Wen Jiabao seconded that. "Confidence and trust" are key to mastering the current situation, he said.

China has an important role to play in the euro crisis. The world’s second largest economy is a member of the International Monetary Fund, which is also involved in efforts to assist Greece. China also has huge foreign currency reserves. It euro reserves are thought to be worth hundred of billions.

Human rights and the rule of law

There are still areas in which the German and Chinese governments do not agree, in particular the rule of law and human rights. The Chancellor announced that the two states had agreed on a new date for the bilateral dialogue on the rule of law and human rights. In her talks with Wen Jiabao she had also raised the issue of the conditions under which journalists work in China, she reported. Journalists must be able to work under good conditions and report objectively.

Numerous agreements signed

On the first day of the Chancellor’s visit, numerous agreements and declarations were signed. Technological cooperation, a Sino-German language year, electromobility and food safety – this illustrates the wide range of fields in which German and Chinese ministries will be collaborating more closely in future.

The Chancellor also met Chinese environmental groups. With them she looked at the options for civil society engagement and the problems involved.

This was the Chancellor’s sixth visit to China since taking office, and her second visit this year. In 2006 she visited Beijing and Shanghai, in 2007 Beijing and Nanjing, and in 2008 she attended the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) summit in Beijing.

In 2010 other visits took her to Beijing and Xi’an and in February this year she visited in Beijing and Canton. The Chancellor is very much interested on each visit to find out a little more about day to day Chinese life in rural and provincial areas.

Aug 31, 2012