Sino-German partnership: success based on openness

By Michael Clauss Source:Global Times Published: 2017/10/18 19:53:39

Since establishing diplomatic relations 45 years ago, the partnership between China and Germany has prospered. In recent years our economic and political relationship has become closer and more diverse than ever before. Occasional disagreements will not change that. One highly visible indicator of this closeness is the record frequency with which our leaders have met. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel has visited China 10 times, exceeding the number of visits by any other Western head of government. President Xi Jinping visited Germany twice in his first term; Premier Li Keqiang three times.

Although German companies face  challenges, such as trying to achieve a more level playing field with Chinese state-owned enterprises, our bilateral trade volume has nevertheless risen to 170 billion euro in 2016. China has become Germany's top trading partner. German investment in China has risen by a further 3 billion euro in 2016. Chinese investment in Germany leapt by almost 3,000 percent last year, and will continue to rise in 2017. Both export world champions Germany and China are collaborating to push forward a 4th Industrial Revolution based on digitalization. Under the right circumstances, Germany's "Industry 4.0" and "Made in China 2025" can give further momentum to our cooperation in the high-tech sectors. Germany is already considered to be the most important high-tech supplier to Chinese manufacturing.

Furthermore, the growing overlap of our political interests propels us to act together- deepening and shaping globalization, defending the Paris Climate accords in order to combat climate change, supporting an effective and well-financed United Nations system and a strong European Union, promoting a rule-based global free trade system with a strong WTO at its core - the list goes on. Fortunately, there are no geopolitical rivalries standing between us. Our relationship has transcended purely bilateral issues, because both China and Germany recognize that we should do more to promote global peace and stability and to support joint development. Germany welcomes the philosophy of the Belt and Road initiative which has the potential to strengthen globalization through connectivity. We, just like our European partners, are interested in shaping this initiative as equal partners.

Finally, our societies are growing closer together as well. For example, Chinese and Germans share a passion for football and have agreed to cooperate in fostering the next generation of football world champions. At this very moment, "Deutschland 8," the most comprehensive exhibition of modern German art ever curated, is welcoming Chinese visitors in Beijing. Both of these prominent examples of our cultural cooperation are being developed in the framework of our new People-to-People Dialogue. If combined with an unobstructed working environment for the facilitators of these exchanges, the People-to-People Dialogue could contribute to making our societal relations as strong as our economic and political ones.

One might be tempted to lean back and just watch this partnership continue to develop on an already promising basis. We ask ourselves, however, if more can be done to help this partnership, also in the EU framework, reach its full potential. Sino-German cooperation is based on openness. In the European experience an open economy and society is key to prosperity and stability. This is why we steadfastly advocate continued openness in Europe and beyond. That is also why we strongly welcomed President Xi's commitment at Davos and on other occasions to economic openness and globalization. Now the increasingly urgent challenge is the implementation of this vision by the relevant government authorities. In our bilateral experience, the more China has opened up, the stronger our partnership has become. Accordingly, issues such as market access, cyberspace regulations and human rights will remain on our bilateral agenda. I'm convinced that there is still potential for the Sino-German partnership to grow even stronger.

The author is the German Ambassador to China.

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