• 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
Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
File photo: DPA

When a man swimming naked in a Bavarian lake felt a strange pain in his nether regions, he looked up to see a fisherman on the shore. "Don’t pull!" he shouted.

Study finds rival Rhineland beers 'actually taste the same'
Left: Altbier. Right: Kölsch. Or can you even tell? Photos: DPA.

Cologne and Düsseldorf have a long established rivalry, not least over who has the better home brew. So the results of a new study might be more than they can swallow.

Eastern Europe pushes Germany for joint EU army
Angela Merkel (l), Beata Szydlo and Victor Orban. Photo: DPA

Eastern EU countries on Friday pushed for the bloc to create a joint army as they met with Germany for talks on sketching Europe's post-Brexit future.

Merkel’s party mate wants to get rid of all Karl Marx streets
Karl Marx and one of the roadways in Berlin named for him. Photos: Wikimedia Commons, Nicor

Hundreds of streets are named after the founder of communism, but this conservative politician wants to give Marx the boot.

State elections
6 reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
Photo: DPA

With state elections around the corner, The Local looks at the poor side of Germany's "poor but sexy" capital city.

Upstarts RB Leipzig plan to go right to top of Bundesliga
RB Leipzig players celebrate scoring against Dynamo Dresden. Photo: DPA

RB Leipzig make their Bundesliga debut on Sunday, but the East German outfit, sponsored by energy drinks manufacturer Red Bull, are already far from popular in Germany's top-flight.

Poland criticizes Germany’s 'self-serving' foreign policy
Witold Waszczykowski. Photo: DPA

The Polish foreign minister has said that Germany all too often follows its own interests at the expense of its partners, as Chancellor Angela Merkel prepares to visit Warsaw.

Vast majority of Germans in favour of burqa ban: poll
Women wearing niqab veils in Saudi Arabia. Photo: DPA.

A survey found that the vast majority of respondents were in favour of Germany passing a ban on the full-body veil sometimes worn by Muslim women.

Czech police detain driver for harassing Merkel's motorcade
Angela Merkel. File photo: DPA

Czech police arrested a man on Thursday for attempting to drive into the motorcade of visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Prague, they said.

Teacher convicted for holding kids back after class
Photo: DPA

A music teacher from North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) has been found guilty of "holding people against their will" after he made some naughty stay kids back after class.

Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Gallery
Germany's 17 Olympic gold medals in pictures
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Culture
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Rhineland
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
Sponsored Article
Life in Jordan: 'Undiscovered treasure'
Lifestyle
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
14 facts you never knew about the Brandenburg Gate
Society
Ten times Germans proved they really, really love beer
Sponsored Article
Why Jordan is the ‘Different’ East
Lifestyle
What's on in Germany: events for August 2016
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
Six things you need to know when moving to Germany
Travel
These 10 little-known German towns are a must see
Sponsored Article
Jordan Pass: your ticket to the experience of a lifetime
International
German scientists prove birds can sleep while flying
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Technology
London v. Berlin: Which is better for startups?
Lifestyle
13 mortifying mistakes German learners always make
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Travel
Enter if you dare: Berlin's best abandoned haunts
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Lifestyle
10 rookie errors all Brits make when they arrive in Germany
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
National
How to get German citizenship (or just stay forever)
Sponsored Article
Jordan: where history meets adventure
Technology
Brexit will turn Berlin into 'Europe’s startup capital'
Sponsored Article
6 reasons expats use TransferWise to send money
Travel
Six soothing day trips to escape the bustle of Berlin
International
'Germany needs to make UK come to its senses'
Features
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Features
How two gay dads cut through German red tape to start a family
8,614
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd