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Westerwelle urges Europe to look to China

The Local · 26 Nov 2010, 08:58

Published: 26 Nov 2010 08:58 GMT+01:00

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In an interview published Friday, Westerwelle said China would be a “key partner” in the 21st century.

“China and Europe need one another more than ever,” he told daily Hamburger Abendblatt. “An intensive co-operation is to the advantage of both sides.”

Westerwelle said there was both a political and an economic necessity for the European Union and China to work together.

“Because of its size, its economic strength and its political importance, China is a key partner in the 21st century,” he said.

The Free Democrats leader also praised the global political role China was playing.

“It is welcome that China is taking increasing responsibility in global politics and business,” he said. “Genuine partnership means open talks about different points of view.”

China is fast-becoming one of Germany's most important trading partners. The emerging giant is sucking up massive volumes of German exports such as machine tools, which it needs to equip its own growing manufacturing sector.

Germany and China joined forces at the recent G20 meeting in Seoul to criticize the United States’ monetary policy, whereby it pumped $600 billion of cash into the markets in an effort to kickstart its economy.

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At the time, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble blasted the policy, known as “quantitative easing,” as “horrendous” and warned that the US had for too long lived on borrowed money.

DAPD/The Local/dw

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

09:33 November 26, 2010 by freechoice
i don't think Mr. Wen looks comfortable being with Mr. Westerwelle, did he found out something?
10:04 November 26, 2010 by catjones
The photo is showing how Germany and China shake hands in agreement.
15:28 November 26, 2010 by AusHessen
Start preparing your babies learning Chinese. We laughed back then. 'Made in China'.

Now they are laughing at us.

By next year the Chines will be number one followed by India and an ailing USA in the world economic leaders.
16:00 November 26, 2010 by facistland
India? If they're lucky they can manage to feed their massive starving population, let alone the world power. On average, the Indians consume less than 500g of food per day. Many parts of India most people can effort only one meal a day, as food prices are too expensive now. It is very sad to look at these poor people, wish they have some kind of birth control.
00:51 November 29, 2010 by Beijinger
That China and Germany both currently benefit from cooperation is indisputable. The question is how long this relationship remains mutually advantageous. At some point, China will no longer need Europe the way that Minister Westerwelle implies that Europe needs China. Westerwelle's statements actually reflect a loss of leverage with China, as Chinese companies become increasingly competitive with foreign companies and European economies increasingly rely on access to Chinese markets as much as America relies on China owning a large portion of its debt

For the time being, China is still absorbing European technology and expertise while European companies gain access to the Chinese market. However, more and more foreign-educated Chinese are returning to China and Chinese technology in many sectors such as alternative energy and high speed rail is quickly catching up to European technology. The Chinese leadership probably anticipates the day when China's economic development relies far less upon Sino-European cooperation than it does now. European leaders would be wise to anticipate that day, as well.

The most unfortunate thing about Europe's reliance upon China is revealed in Westerwelle's statements about China's increasing global responsibility and "open talks about different points of view." China is notoriously unscrupulous about where, how, and with whom it does business. The willingness of the Chinese government to deal with Sudan's government during the Darfur crisis and China's recent failure to bring pressure on North Korea's leadership are just two examples of China's failure to live up to its new responsibility on the world stage. China's government cites its unwillingness to interfere in other states' internal politics as justification for engaging with regimes that commit genocide and oppression.

For China's political and economic leaders, business is business. Just as they are unwilling to interfere in other countries' internal affairs, so they will be unreceptive to any dialogue or rhetoric regarding their own. Where China is concerned, it is entirely naive to think that, "Genuine partnership means open talks about different points of view." The dispute over the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize demonstrates the current impossibility of having honest dialogue with China about an issue that is central to the character of modern European democracies: the respect for human rights and human dignity.

China's rise is inevitable. Whether or not European leaders should eagerly embrace it is another matter. I hope that Westerwelle's rhetoric is merely lip service to placate China and that European politicians remain cognizant of and act in accordance with the ideological differences between themselves and their Chinese counterparts. Ideology and values aside, European leaders should anticipate when China decides Sino-European partnership is no longer vital and takes aggressive protectionist measures.
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