• Germany edition
 
China to receive Merkel with military honours
Chancellor Merkel addresses a press briefing during a visit to Beijing in 2012. Photo: DPA

China to receive Merkel with military honours

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

"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 stories about Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Tanker fills up gas station with wrong fuel
Photo: DPA

Tanker fills up gas station with wrong fuel

Around 160 car owners are stuck after a gas station's storage tanks were filled with the wrong fuel, causing an estimated €100,000 in damage. READ  

Lufthansa strike hits 1,500 flights
Photo: DPA

Lufthansa strike hits 1,500 flights

UPDATE: In the second day of their strike, Lufthansa pilots have, as promised, extended their industrial action to include long-haul international flights until the end of Tuesday. READ  

Merkel tells allies to pay Ukraine's gas debts
Chancellor Angela Merkel in Bratislava, Slovakia, on Monday. Photo: DPA

Merkel tells allies to pay Ukraine's gas debts

Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday called on Ukraine's allies to help the war-scarred nation pay off its gas debts to Russia, amid concern over gas supplies this winter. READ  

Steinmeier wants epidemic task force
Frank-Walter Steinmeier speaks at the World Health Summit in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Steinmeier wants epidemic task force

At the World Health Summit in Berlin, the Ebola crisis took centre stage at talks meant to create plans for how to handle future outbreaks. READ  

Nazi-stolen painting put on display, sort of
The Wiesbaden Museum in Hesse. Photo: DPA

Nazi-stolen painting put on display, sort of

The Wiesbaden Museum was once a collection house for art stolen from Jewish owners by the Nazi. With one painting, they hope to right at least one wrong while bringing awareness to its ongoing restitution work. READ  

JobTalk Germany
'It's only an internship if you're learning'

'It's only an internship if you're learning'

How long should an intern work for without being paid? At least eight months, according to a ruling by a court in western Germany last week. JobTalk looks at the warning signs for abusive internships. READ  

Single parents, common law families on rise
Photo: DPA

Single parents, common law families on rise

The German family structure is changing, with nearly a third of every family no longer living in the "classic model" and big differences in what family looks like in the former East and West, statistics agency Destatis announced on Monday. READ  

Four arrested in raids against Isis
Photo: DPA

Four arrested in raids against Isis

Police raided 15 homes across Germany over the weekend and arrested four suspected supporters of the Islamic State (Isis). They are alleged to have smuggled a teenager and thousands of winter military clothes to the terrorist group's frontlines. READ  

Munich Refugee Crisis
'There's no room but we have nowhere else to go'
Hassan, pictured outside the Bayernkaserne with two of his children, arrived in Munich from Syria. Photo: Mariane Schroeder

'There's no room but we have nowhere else to go'

Around 300 refugees are arriving in Munich each day, but accommodation centres are full. With authorities struggling for answers, The Local meets those at the sharp end of the crisis. READ  

Train Strike
Buses up prices, football fans brawl, trains return
Photo: DPA

Buses up prices, football fans brawl, trains return

UPDATE: Deutsche Bahn trains are chugging along again after a 50-hour train strike cost the service "tens of millions" and brought travel headaches across the country, leaving millions of passengers struggling for transportation over the weekend as well as at least one mass brawl in its tracks. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Berlin
Robbers blow up Berlin bank
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: Facebook
Society
German motorcycle gang joins Isis fight
Photo: DPA
Politics
UKIP ‘seeks EU pact’ with German satirical party
Photo: DPA
Travel
This is the man who has stopped Germany's trains
Photo: Shutterstock
Business & Money
Expats: Should I stay or should I go?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: World's biggest erotic fair opens in Berlin
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Photo: Shutterstock
Business & Money
Which expat foods do you miss the most?
Sponsored Article
International School on the Rhine: a legacy
Photo: DPA
Gallery
The ten richest people in Germany
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,464
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd