Insights丨German experts: Practical and win-win cooperation the key to Germany-China relationship

2024-04-17 Editor : Chen Tianhao ECNS App Download

By Chen Tianhao

(ECNS) -- On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Beijing. President Xi noted that this year marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the all-round strategic partnership between China and Germany. Over the past 10 years, despite tremendous changes in the international landscape, China-Germany relations have maintained steady growth, and bilateral cooperation has strengthened and deepened across the board, providing impetus for the development of both countries.

This is Scholz's second visit to China. In this regard, China News Network talked with Michael Borchmann, former head of the European and International Affairs Department of the federal German state of Hesse, and Benjamin Creutzfeldt, managing director of the Confucius Institute in Leipzig, Germany, about the significance and possible implications of Scholz's visit to China.


Strong will for bilateral cooperation and people-to-people exchanges

According to Borchmann, "for Scholz's second visit to China, his delegation is very high ranking, accompanied by three ministers, which signals the importance China holds for him."

In addition, Borchmann said the reason why German foreign direct investment to China is massive is that "business leaders from Germany's main enterprises think practically, and know that engagement with China means economic success for them." With the success of BASF, BOSCH, and BMW in China, the German investment has yielded positive results, Borchmann mentioned.

"Person-to-person relations are key to getting along and to communicating about many issues that are controversial and complicated," noted Creutzfeldt. As he observed, the German people in general have great and continued interest in China, especially among young people, some of whom would learn the Chinese language, e culture, and history, which is very encouraging.


BRI deepens to benefit global logistics

China-Europe Railway Express has a profound impact on promoting connectivity of the Eurasian continent under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a significant platform for bilateral cooperation.

Heading westward to Duisburg, Germany, from West China's Xi'an city on March 29, the X8155 China-Europe freight train marked the 1,000th trip for the China-Europe Railway Express (Xi'an) in 2024. Borchmann believes that the railway system is economically very useful for Duisburg and other German cities and is important for securing supply chains in unquiet times.

According to Creutzfeldt, Germany was one of the forerunners in the 19th century regarding railroad connectivity, followed by other countries like Britain, but no country has been as successful in carrying this type of connectivity worldwide as China has. Therefore, the China-Europe Railway Express "should be welcomed" since Germany and many other European countries could benefit from this type of connectivity. "It's an important step toward sustainable global logistics," he said.


Work together to overcome challenges

Both experts mentioned that through enhanced communication, mutual understanding, and more trust, many bilateral problems can be solved. Borchmann said that Chancellor Scholz and his party (SPD) are not so much U.S.-influenced as some others in Germany, and that the visit is expected to bear good results.

However, the BRI "has been so politicized and so colored by the fear of other ambitions that China might have," Creutzfeldt pointed out, "It has been painted in a negative tint, and that's very unfortunate." Therefore, he thought that more positive messaging is necessary to shore up the BRI, which would in turn benefit Germany and beyond.

"So, I'm just pleased that Chancellor Scholz's visit can break up some of these prejudices that have emerged in the political circles," he said, "and show that person-to-person relations are key to getting along and to communicating about many issues that are controversial and complicated."


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