Spotlight: Merkel's frequent visits to China aimed at forging "special" ties

Date : 2016-04-19 | From : Exportimes

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will pay an official visit to China on Oct. 29-30, which will be her eighth trip to the Asian country since 2005 in the capacity of chancellor.

Experts here and figures from political and economic circles say that her frequent visits to China, the most among all German chancellors and a record among European leaders are aimed at forging "special" ties with the world's second largest economy.

SPECIAL RELATIONS

"Developing relations with China is the consensus of major political forces in Germany. The ties between China and Germany have a solid political foundation," Chinese Ambassador to Germany Shi Mingde told Xinhua.

"Chinese leaders also attach great importance to developing relations with Germany," Shi said, noting that mutual trust and frequent exchanges of visits between leaders of the two countries are of great significance for promoting the comprehensive development of Sino-German ties.

People have been talking about a "special" relationship between the two countries as bilateral ties have maintained a good momentum of development in recent years.

Johannes Kadura, a China expert from the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), believed that it is justified to speak of a "special" relationship at least since Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to Germany at the end of March 2014 and the joint declaration of establishing an all-round strategic partnership between the two countries.

The Chinese government, Kadura told Xinhua, regards Merkel as a strong leader who has a significant influence on European policy, while Merkel, in contrast to some other European representatives, has consistently shown a great interest in China.

Sino-German cooperation, Shi said, is also having an impact at the international level.

"Both China and Germany have significant international influence. The two countries have maintained close cooperation in international affairs and are both actively committed to addressing focus issues through political and diplomatic means," the ambassador said.

"The cooperation between China and Germany is not only in the interest of both countries, but also conducive to safeguarding world peace and promoting common development," he said.

BOOMING ECONOMIC TIES

Nadine Godehardt, a China expert from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), said the particularities of Sino-German relations are based, above all, on their flourishing trade relations, which are very important for both sides.

"A lasting special relationship between Germany and China is well founded because of the mere fact that Germany is by far the largest trading partner of China in the EU," Kadura said.

"With Germany, China probably has the strongest partner relationship in Europe. A look at the economic cooperation illustrates this: Germany has become China's most important economic partner in Europe in 2014 with a trading volume of over 150 billion euros (165 billion U.S. dollars); China is Germany's most important trading partner in Asia," he added.

According to Chinese official statistics, the trade volume between China and Germany has reached 177.8 billion dollars in 2014, accounting for around 30 percent of China-EU trade volume.

Close cooperation between the German and Chinese governments has clearly strengthened, and promoted bilateral trade and investment relations in the last decade, noted Benno Bunse, CEO of Germany Trade and Invest, adding that German exports to China have more than tripled since 2004, while imports of Chinese goods have more than doubled.

The cumulative amount of German direct investment in China has increased by more than 300 percent during 2004-2013, Bunse told Xinhua. Meanwhile, Chinese investment in Germany has also increased rapidly.

According to a report by Germany Trade and Invest, China has become the number one investor in Germany in 2014 with record 190 investment projects, ahead of the United States with 168 projects and Switzerland with 130 projects.

FUTURE DEVELOPMENT

"Both the German and the Chinese governments continue to have a clear interest in expanding the successful economic and political cooperation between their countries," said Kadura while commenting on the future development of Sino-German bilateral ties.

"More than 60 dialogue forums, partly taking place at the highest level, support this position," he added.

Meanwhile, Bunse predicted that Merkel's upcoming visit to China would further intensify mutually beneficial trade relations.

"Merkel's visit will further strengthen bilateral cooperation in the fields of innovative industries and digitalization of production chains. It will create new opportunities for both sides in 2015, the year of 'innovation partnership' between China and Germany," the CEO said.

Sino-German relations, said Shi, are facing new development opportunities. "Last year, China and Germany agreed on a leading role of innovation in future bilateral cooperation. This is the first time that China has established a broad innovative partnership with a Western power."

Also, bilateral cooperation has broad prospects in the field of high-end manufacturing, the ambassador said. In addition, the two countries can enhance their cooperation to jointly promote the "One Belt One Road" initiative.

Speaking of the main challenges facing Sino-German relations in the next few years, Shi noted that the two countries should fundamentally promote mutual understanding between the two peoples, properly handle differences and continue to tap new growth points for the development of bilateral ties.

"There is a Chinese saying: Rowing upstream, not to advance is to drop back. China and Germany should have a long-term perspective, and continue to tap potential and fortify cooperation in order to promote the development of bilateral relations to a higher level," he said.

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