• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

China to receive Merkel with military honours

AFP · 4 Jul 2014, 08:03

Published: 04 Jul 2014 08:03 GMT+02:00

For the EU's biggest economy, China is a crucial mass market, where companies want its technology and millions of newly prosperous crave German goods from Audi sedans to luxury home appliances.

Merkel is set to travel with a high-powered business delegation including top executives of Siemens, VW, Airbus, Lufthansa and Deutsche Bank, the Bild daily reported this week.

Government officials did not confirm the line-up but said corporate chieftains hope to sign deals in Beijing's Great Hall of the People that could further cement bilateral business ties.

China is Germany's number-two export market outside Europe after the United States. It sold goods worth €67 billion to China last year, while imports from the Asian giant topped €73 billion.

"Over the last decade or so German exports to China have grown exponentially," said Hans Kundnani, research director at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

"The big turning point was the 2008-09 financial crisis and the subsequent euro crisis, when the bottom fell out of some of Germany's markets in Europe and... the Chinese market became even more important. There is now this almost perfect symbiosis: Germany needs an export market and China needs technology."

State honours, military pomp

During her past trips, Merkel has been demonstrably impressed with China's rapid economic transformation.

She has often argued that crisis-hit Europe needs to shape up and reform if it wants to survive on the global market place as populous giants like China continue to develop.

Premier Li Keqiang will Monday receive Merkel with full military honours for what under Chinese protocol is considered a state visit, despite the fact the chancellor is Germany's head of government.

When she meets President Xi Jinping, it will be the second out of three scheduled meetings this year - the third being a joint cabinet session in October in Berlin, a unique format for Beijing.

Merkel starts her three-day trip on Sunday in Chengdu, the capital of the southwestern Sichuan province, which at over 80 million people has about the same population as Germany.

In the city of 14 million, where some 160 German companies are active, she will visit a plant of automaker VW's local joint venture and attend a forum on urbanisation.

In a nod to the social problems that have accompanied China's rise, she will also visit a social centre helping children of internal 'migrant workers'.

At a joint business council in Beijing, the German side is expected to address sticking points such as fair market access for foreign companies and respect for intellectual property rights.



Golden decade, troubled waters

Trickier questions on human rights are likely to be discussed quietly, behind closed doors, an approach that German officials argue can be more effective in China than finger-wagging reprimands.

There is no shortage of obvious issues. For one, Berlin is currently hosting the biggest ever exhibition by Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei, which Beijing has barred him from attending.

Analysts say Merkel - who angered Beijing in 2007 by meeting Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama - is unlikely to allow rights questions to derail the tight relationship.

Story continues below…

"My sense is that human rights are increasingly being subordinated to Germany's economic interests," said Kundnani. "Germany is not pushing these issues as much as it used to."

He pointed out this could be a lost opportunity given that "Germany, because of its economic relationship with China, is probably the one EU member state that has any kind of leverage over China".

More difficult to navigate, say commentators, will be the tense territorial disputes between China and its neighbours such as Vietnam and Japan, its tensions with the United States, or recent pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

"We have had a golden decade in bilateral relations," said Sebastian Heilmann, head of the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Berlin. "But now they are heading into more troubled waters."

SEE ALSO: China woos Germany's mittelstand

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
German populist party in race row over Boateng remarks
Boateng, who has a Ghanaian father, was born and brought up in Berlin. Photo: DPA

A leading member of the right-wing populist Alternative for Germany (AfD) party sparked outrage Sunday after making racist remarks about national football team defender Jerome Boateng.

Dozens hit by lightning strike in west Germany
Witnesses to the lightning strike said it came out of the blue. Photo: DPA

35 people were injured in the west German village of Hoppstädten when lightning struck the pitch at the end of a children's football match.

Dresden 'most woman-friendly’ city in Germany
Photo: DPA.

Sorry Berlin, you're not the most progressive city for women, according to a new report.

The future belongs to these 10 German regions
This east German city won the 'most improved' category. Photo: DPA

A new study shows that one city above all will dominate the future of Germany, but if you're canny you might still want to think about moving to Leipzig or Erfurt.

Fugitive ex-terrorists 'on huge crime spree' in north Germany
(L-r): ex-RAF members Volker Staub, Daniela Klette, and Burkhard Garweg. Photo: BKA

In their struggle against capitalism they once murdered businessmen and politicians. Now three ex-terrorists have taken to robbing supermarkets - and rather successfully, too.

Scooter singer finally reveals how much the fish cost
H.P. Baxxter. Photo: DPA

It is the question Germans have wanted to know the answer to for almost two decades - and now they have the answer, thanks to a US talkshow host.

'I'm definitely not a paedophile': disgraced MP
Former MP Sebastian Edathy is in hiding after a child pornography scandal destroyed his career. Photo: DPA

Former MP Sebastian Edathy quit his job and left Germany after videos of naked children were found on his computer.

Weekend promises storms, humidity - and a bit of sun
A storm in Cuxhaven last weekend. Photo: DPA

The forecast for the coming days isn’t the pristine blue skies many of us are longing for. But, in among the storms, the sun will still peek out.

Prosecutors take aim at unedited Hitler book
An original edition of 'Mein Kampf' featuring a photo of Hitler on an inside cover. Photo: DPA

German prosecutors said on Thursday they were investigating whether to bring charges against a publisher who has promised to print a version of Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitic manifesto "Mein Kampf" without annotations.

VW bets on battery factory for electric car dominance
A VW logo is seen in front of a plugged-in electric car. Photo: DPA

Scandal-hit car giant Volkswagen is set to sink huge sums into building a factory for batteries to power its future electric cars, German media reported on Friday.

Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
Society
Pegida enraged by black children on chocolate bars
Health
New father's tragic herpes warning touches 1000s online
National
Monsanto takeover would be 'diabolical': environmentalists
Lifestyle
10 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
Politics
MP recites explicit Erdogan bestiality poem on live TV
National
China beats Germany in readiness to help refugees
Hamburg
Headless Lübeck corpse turns out to be discarded sex doll
National
Pensioner claims to have found hidden Nazi nukes
Business & Money
Here's why Munich is worth 20 times more than Berlin
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that will stay with you forever
Technology
Church plans to connect with faithful at Wi-Fi 'Godspots'
Technology
Online hate speech can cost users thousands of Euros
Society
Bavarians in rush for non-lethal weapons licenses
Sport
Here's Germany's Mannschaft for Euro 2016
Culture
The Syrian pianist playing his way into Germans' hearts
The parrot who flew fast enough to trigger a speed camera
Technology
New law could let free Wi-Fi bloom across Germany
Politics
Berlin's plans to beef up the German army
Sport
Lufthansa's Euro 2016 ad takes aim at England
National
Supermarkets must pay massive fine for fixing beer prices
National
4/20: Five things to know about weed in Germany
Berlin
Police break up hipster swarm at vegan restaurant opening
7,827
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd