Chancellor Merkel in China
Enlarge image (© Bundesregierung/Bergmann) On the second day of her trip to China, Chancellor Angela Merkel was able to view personally the close economic relationship between Germany and China. At a visit to an Airbus factory in Tianjin, she expressed her appreciation of the “success story” of the two countries' cooperation.
Forty years after the establishment of diplomatic relations, the German-Chinese relationship is closer than ever before. To mark the anniversary, Germany will celebrate a “China Year” and both countries will hold a plethora of cultural events. Moreover, Germany will open a new Goethe-Institut in China this year, as well as an additional consulate.
On the first day in China German-Chinese government consultations stood in the foreground. In the discussions, Chancellor Merkel, accompanied by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and six other ministers, emphasized how important it is “that we continually ensure that our cooperation rests on a secure, predictable foundation.” Chancellor Merkel invited the future Chinese government to the next round of talks in Berlin, scheduled for 2014.
The 100th Airbus
Enlarge image Chancellor Merkel and Premier Wen Jiabao tour an Airbus factory. (© picture alliance / Kay Nietfeld) An outstanding example of the good economic relations between Germany and China is the aircraft industry. The 100th Airbus manufactured in Tianjin was shown to the chancellor. “The success story began in 2007,” she said. “That was a milestone in German-Chinese collaboration in civil aviation.”
The Airbus factory employs more than 1,100 people, and ever new contracts ensure the plant's continuity. China is the second-largest market for commercial aircraft in the world, and Airbus maintains a 50-percent market share in the country.
Regarding the close economic interdependence of the two countries, Chancellor Merkel expressed herself clearly: “China is the most important partner in Asia for Germany.” She went on the recognize the dynamic development of the economic relationships. That these, however, are not problem-free is also clear. These problems should preferably be solved in talks, according to the chancellor. Protectionism is no answer. “We are all dependent upon free trade.” Additionally, current problems in the field of solar energy are better resolved in discussions, not judicial rows. It is essential, together with the European Union Commission, to seek a solution.
An important topic between Angela Merkel and Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao was the situation in the euro zone. The chancellor elucidated the status of reforms in the euro countries and stressed the political will within the monetary region to re-establish trust in the currency. Wen Jiabao agreed: “Confidence and trust” are the key to getting out of the current situation.
China plays an important role in the euro crisis: The second-largest economy in the world is a member of the International Monetary Fund and is engaged in aid to Greece. Furthermore, China holds large currency reserves; the portion of these invested in euros is estimated to be in the three-digit billion range.
Human rights and the rule of law
Finally, there are a few issues on which the governments of Germany and China do not see eye to eye, foremost among which are human rights and the rule of law. Chancellor Merkel announced that a new appointment had been scheduled to hold bilateral discussions about these two issues. In her discussion with Wen Jiabao, she also addressed the working situation for journalists, which must allow for objective reporting.