China a challenge to German economy, Rösler says

China a challenge to German economy, Rösler says
Photo: DPA
As Chancellor Angela Merkel prepared to greet Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Monday, her coalition partner, Free Democrats leader Philipp Rösler, warned China posed a challenge as well as an opportunity to Germany.

Economy Minister Rösler stressed that economic relations were excellent but told daily Bild that China would prove a strong competitor to German firms.

Asked whether Germany should fear China, he said: “Fear is always a bad guide. But of course the growing role of China on the world markets … is a challenge for the German economy.”

He said Germany was nevertheless “well-prepared” to compete with China and would continue to profit from the rapidly growing market it represents.

“China means more chances for us if we secure our competitiveness through innovation, flexibility and customer-focus … I see no reason why German companies should not be able to hold their own with confidence against Chinese competitors.”

Germany’s exports to China are booming. But experts are increasingly warning that Chinese companies are rapidly improving their own standards when it comes to manufacturing products such as machine tools, at which Germany specialises.

China officially overtook Germany as the world’s leading exporter last year.

On Monday, Jiabao will arrive in Germany from Britain with 13 ministers and a large business delegation. After a working dinner with Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday evening, there will be a joint cabinet meeting on Tuesday.

Several lucrative business contracts will also be signed, though Germany will also press Jiabao over human rights in the wake of the jailing of artist Ai Weiwei.

At the weekend, Jiabao vowed to increase China’s support of the eurozone by spending billions of euros propping up the common currency. Jiabao said it China would keep buying government bonds of debt-stricken European nations such as Greece.

The Local/djw

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