Xi to upgrade German ties

By Liu Xin Source:Global Times Published: 2017/7/5 0:13:39 Last Updated: 2017/7/5 6:56:19

China, Germany united amid protectionism

Chinese President Xi Jinping urged a greater development in China-Germany ties and called for the Group of 20 to continue championing an open economy before his state visit to Germany on Tuesday, his second visit to the European nation since 2014.

Xi wrote an article titled "To Make the World a Better Place" which was published Tuesday in major German media outlets. He said in the article that an important task for his visit is to have in-depth discussions with German leaders on how to advance the comprehensive strategic partnership in a more coordinated manner with a view to elevating bilateral relations to a higher level.

"We need to let our dialogue mechanisms at different levels play a leading role and enhance strategic communication on bilateral relations and major international and regional issues," Xi wrote.

China and Germany are closely linked as they both emphasize free trade amid rising anti-globalization trends, and even if there is friction, the development of bilateral ties is promising as Germany seeks to shift its economic power into leadership within the EU, experts said.

"The achievements in bilateral trade and exchanges from top leaders to the grass-roots level help strengthen ties between China and Germany. Both sides want to deepen the relationship, as Germany is seeking a more important role within the EU and China also wants to push ties with the EU," said Ding Chun, director of the Center for European Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai.

Xi also said that China hopes that major G20 economies will continue to champion the building of an open world economy.

"The G20 needs to stay committed to open development, support the multilateral trading regime with the WTO at its heart, and enable trade and investment to continue to drive global economic growth," Xi wrote.

"The foundation of the well-developed Sino-German ties also lies in the two sides' shared consensus and interests in promoting free trade and facilitating investment. As two influential economies in the world, China and Germany support globalization amid rising populism and protectionism," Ding said.

"The G20 is, to some extent, replacing the G7 or G8 to becoming a key multilateral platform for dealing with global crisis governance, and it fits China's and Germany's propositions for a multi-polar world," Ding said.

During Xi's visit to Germany, he will meet with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. He will also hold talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, attend the opening ceremony of the Berlin Zoo's "Panda Garden," and watch a football match between Chinese and German youth teams, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.

The Chinese and German leaders will exchange views on deepening political mutual trust, expanding practical cooperation, reinforcing cooperation within the framework of the G20, and address other regional or global hot issues, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Chao told a press briefing on June 29. The two sides will also sign a series of cooperative agreements.

Practical policies

Although Sino-German ties are well-developed, there is still some friction between the two.

Germany has stuck to a practical policy toward China and rarely emphasized ideological differences, but it is one of the few countries to pressure China on human rights, Cui Hongjian, director of the Department for European Studies of China Institute of International Studies, told the Global Times.

"Germany pushed some European countries to enter an era of financial austerity after the European debt crisis in 2009, and it began to actively transform its economic power into political leadership," Cui said.

Cui added that it would be very unreasonable for Germany to act as a defender of Western values, at a time when it is seeking to further cooperate with China.

There is also friction on trade between Germany and China. "Germany's position has changed a lot since a raft of Chinese takeovers of German high-tech companies. They realized they did not have any tools to protect their interests in this situation," an anonymous source from the French economy ministry told Reuters.

Germany, France and Italy have sent the European Commission a joint letter that urges the EU executive to re-examine the regulations to allow them to block or impose strict conditions on deals involving public security and public order.

However, Mei Zhaorong, former Chinese Ambassador to Germany, was quoted by thepaper.cn as saying that it shows that Sino-German ties are mature as they are able to have honest or even pointed conversations.

"A mature relationship means that two sides can talk about acute differences without affecting their friendship," Mei said.

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