The German public is deeply involved with China – Exclusive

The German public is deeply involved with China – Exclusive

Frank Hartmann, Head of press department of the German Embassy in Beijing, China.org.cn spoke with on the recent visit to China as well as the Chancellor of the German-Chinese cooperation in the fields of economy, Media and Culture.

Frank Hartmann, Head of press department of the German Embassy in Beijing (german.china.org)

China.org.cn: The Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel last week was a three-day visit to China. It was the German-Chinese cooperation against the euro crisis is also an important issue. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has been declared, China to draw a stronger commitment to the rescue instruments EFSF and ESM consider. What is the German side, the Chinese consumer and China's current measures to overcome the debt crisis?

Hartmann: The visit of the Chancellor was very favorable time, she informed shortly after the European Summit in Brussels the Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao on the results of the EU summit, primarily on the fiscal Union, which has brought them along the way, to stabilize the euro in.
We are aware, that the main responsibility for stabilizing the euro and the solution of the crisis, the Europeans themselves. We want to create this fiscal pact permanent fiscal structures, to prevent a new crisis. And it is quite clear, that Europeans adapt to change yourself first need. But China - and Premier Wen Jiabao has said very well - just as we had a great interest in the stability of the euro. We therefore welcome very, that China would invest more in the future in Europe and that China has expressed a trust in the stability of the euro expressed. The Chancellor has again welcomed quite explicitly, China to invest both in Europe and would like to participate in the European stabilization mechanisms, or at least has promised, that they would consider participation. Whether China will actually buy from the European stability mechanisms securities issued, China must decide according to its own economic course needs themselves. We want, that these are decisions, the private interest in China are. Because we in Europe do not want aid from China, but we hope, that China is investing in Europe - and for self-interest and to his own advantage.

So you are firmly convinced, that China will participate in the European stability mechanisms?

The Chinese Prime Minister has said for the first time, China besides participation in the international instruments of the IMF also check, whether it contributes to the stability of European instruments EFSF and ESM, and this is said so clearly in this for the first time been. If and when this results in a concrete action and to what extent, Of course that is a sovereign decision by the Chinese government.

Does the German side for no other proposals raised, how to overcome the crisis actually?

But, We have said very specifically what we do ourselves, to solve the problems. We have said, what we as a German - have proposed - and together with the French and our other partners in Europe, to overcome the crisis. The first is the fiscal union in conjunction with a national debt brake. But this also includes the more control the national budget by the European Union.
The Chancellor has explained to the Prime Minister, what we do even, order to stabilize the situation both short and long term. The proposal to the Chinese side was, that China could play a bigger role by investing in the European economy. The statement, that China would also contribute to the stability of European instruments, has met the Prime Minister of the chinese, We appreciate very.

The Chancellor has visited during her three-day trip to China, the economically flourishing provincial capital of Guangzhou, there to meet German businessmen. Mr. Hartmann, as the German company to help with their investments in China by the German side? What are the advantages of the Chinese market and the obstacles to overcome German entrepreneurs in China?

It is not so much the question, how the German government is supporting this, but you just have to see times, what long-term experience, German companies have already won in China. We have thousands, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, which for many years been active in the market in China. There are not only large companies such as VW, Audi, BASF and Siemens, but also medium-sized flat, who in their specialty areas and their products brought here a long history of success on the road. At the beginning of the success stories were usually joint ventures. So-called “Wholly Foreign Owned Enterprises” came only later.

It is important, the company a good preparation, a long-term strategy and also just take professional advice. This is perhaps an appropriate warning to the Chinese side, because we have so far not many Chinese investments in Germany, as German investment in China. Therefore, one should perhaps doable for the Chinese side of guidance tools for Chinese companies, wishing to invest abroad. On the German side there is, for example, chambers of commerce or the “Germany Trade and Invest”, German and foreign companies in the partner countries to support. Perhaps it is something like that also draw from the Chinese side into consideration, to their own businesses, involved in activities in Europe, offer professional help and advice to - more, than was previously the case. Because it is, what companies abroad need: Know-how, a long-term strategy and also give professional advice.
The problems of German companies in China, I would like to address the, the equal treatment of German and domestic companies in public tenders, the issue of protection of intellectual property and - this is very important and was also addressed by Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel during her visit - the technology transfer, should take place on a purely voluntary basis. It is clear, that it is always in joint ventures is also a technology transfer. But the transfer must include the willingness of the company, to achieve this transfer. It's about, to accept the boundary, to which an investor is willing, to transfer its technology - because this transfer must and can only be done on a voluntary basis.

How is this respect for the current mood among German companies? If one has the feeling, the one in which technology transfer is taken to the cleaners, or the German companies in China feel safe?

The current mood of the German company is very well. This was also the meeting of the Chancellor with German businessmen in Guangzhou. It is clear the company, that they, if they want to be here in the Chinese market long-term success, technology transfer must be prepared. Important for German companies, and has also addressed the Chancellor, that they can still get a certain technical edge over their Chinese competitors upright. The course also provides the research and development with the task, themselves ahead of need. Because technology transfer or not - of course you have to look, that secures the long-term success by their own inventions and advancements.
At this point, the Chancellor of the Chinese prime minister asked for understanding: There are always areas in which technological development, The companies want to keep for themselves and their own need for development. Technologietransfer ja, but in moderation.

They have previously been addressed, that the Chancellor has expressed a desire for her visit to China, that Chinese companies are investing in Germany. How did the Chinese company in Germany developed recently?

If you compare the numbers times each other, then you will see very quickly, where we are currently: We have a total of approximately 21 Billion € investment, The German companies in China have done and about on the other side 600 Million Chinese investment in Germany. About 5.500 German companies are active in China and about 800 mostly smaller Chinese companies in Germany. There have been recent, of course, some most striking, large and positive investments - including for instance the purchase of the German concrete pump manufacturer Putzmeister Sany by the Chinese company. This is an investment in the range of several hundred million €, which also creates jobs in Germany, which is of course welcomed us very.

The Chancellor has therefore asked to invest more in Germany and in the European market and made quite clear clear, that Chinese investments in Germany are welcome and in no way be- be restricted or, but apply the same rules for all that - for locals and foreigners. Investments in Europe have the advantage, that diversified its international activities and global competitiveness is. In addition, Chinese companies can work with German companies gain a technological advantage and better position themselves as global economic players.

If you look at the German media landscape, then one might get the impression, that the investment by Chinese companies are not only considered positive - there are frequent reports, warning about before, that of Chinese enterprises in Germany “cheap shopping trip” German companies are good and, which have fallen due to the crisis in financial need, could buy. Do these fears?

There are very good examples of investment by Chinese enterprises in Germany - I have already addressed precisely. It may be, that there are some issues that you and the fears. But Germany is an open market, and our foreign trade thrives, that we, as a globally active German, trade with foreign trade and invest in other countries. And it also depends, that we have in Germany, international investment, that we attract investors. And there is China as an investor, of course, no exception. The largest investors in Germany are of course far different, our direct European neighbors such as, but also countries like the U.S. or Japan. Therefore it is natural, that Chinese companies investing in Germany. And I also believe, that you get used to it in Germany long ago, that one can have in the company, international executives and managers and found that globally active corporate offices in Germany. This is a natural development in globalization and we welcome this very explicitly - because our economic situation depends, how much is invested in Germany and Europe. It is important, that the German government welcomes Chinese investment very much - the German economy and the way.

What are the benefits it has for German companies, here to invest in China? When it comes to resources and cheap labor?

First, of course there are the outlets and the huge market. If we take the automotive industry as an example, then we are at one of the largest German carmaker may soon have the situation, that more vehicles are manufactured in China than in Europe. These cars are made only for the Chinese market, not for other countries or to international market. So the Chinese market, The growing consumerism and the increasing purchasing power of Chinese consumers - these are the reasons, make it attractive, to invest in China. Which was cheaper compared to Europe earlier investments in production may be important, but now no longer. China is a large market, The good sales opportunities. To be successful here, but one needs a long-term strategy and must collect experience locally. All this is only, when produced in China.

After this rather economic issues, we come now to the latest developments in the cultural exchange between Germany and China. At the 30. January has started the Chinese Culture Year in Germany. As part of the cultural year to the theme “Chinah” more than 500 Events are held in major German cities. But unlike “Germany and China in joint movement” finds the project from start to little recognition in Germany. Several German media suspect expressed in their articles, China wants to do at these events just propaganda. As you look at the Chinese Culture Year and what you think, Why this suspicion has arisen?

We welcome, that China presents to the culture for the first time in this range and with so many events. We were in Germany so far no such Chinese cultural year. We find it particularly positive, that have been in this cultural program also included several dialogue sessions with, dedicated to the social dialogue, even on issues, where we may have different view. For if the opinions are too different: the dialogue is the most important. This requires openness, Tolerance and respect for other opinions. If you bring this openness and can also deal with criticism, then both sides can only benefit. This way we try to pursue the Chinese Culture Year and we are happy about.

Recently it was in Germany a book titled “All Myth! 20 popular misconceptions about China” published, which deals with the typical stereotypes of the Germans against China, such as, Chinese eat dog meat that all or that every Chinese family may have only one child, deals. What accounts for such errors and how they can be harvested?

So when you refer to books about China, then perhaps we can say, that are likely to be published in any other European country currently so many books about China, As in Germany. It is frequently the question, if you have to have fear of China, whether it be a threat, Or as an opportunity to challenge. That's a pretty intense discussion. China was also guest of honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair. If I am right, then grapples with the book you mentioned stereotypes and prejudices about China, and this with a healthy dose of humor.
It is important, that one can overcome prejudice only through in-depth knowledge and dialogue. Travel, Training and above all the cultural exchanges can help, eliminate any prejudices on both sides. We currently have an impressive number of almost 30.000 Chinese students in Germany, and several thousand German students have to exchange- or grant programs participated here in China. This mutual interest is large. We are on the right track.

For cultural exchange and mutual understanding to contribute enormously to the media on both sides. But for some, they are responsible Misunderstanding. How do you assess the German media reports about China and how to evaluate the development of the Chinese state media?

In Germany we have a very intensive coverage of China. For our Chinese friends, it is important to know, that the German public has great interest and great sympathy for China. China is not indifferent to the Germans, The German public is deeply involved with China. The image of China in Germany is of course heavily influenced by the media. It is important, that we have a plurality in the reporting. We have an interest in the widest possible coverage, so as well as various, to provide informed opinions on the subject. There are currently about 30 German correspondents, actively in China.
You have to understand from a Chinese perspective but also, that we have a slightly different tradition of reporting. One can perhaps say, that in Germany we have a culture of debate and no consensus culture. The media see their task, to question the policy and practice in political action and social grievances criticism. Which of course also be pretty intense, especially in the German domestic politics can. Because you just have to try to stay behind and, with this criticism constructively deal.

But if we now consider real time entirely objective reporting in Germany, But then we note, that the negative reporting on China clearly outweigh. You can not imagine, that the results on the Chinese side to discomfort?

Then they look at it as time to, which is currently distributed in the coverage of other European countries, so Germany. In connection with the crisis, for example €. On the other hand some critical report on China is pretty harmless. The media in Europe just to see their main task, to the problems noted - and not primarily, to make positive developments in the foreground. This is just another journalistic tradition.
There is also a detailed background report on China in Germany. It is not true in any case, that the German press would report only negative about China. It should not be in the overall view individual articles critical review.
In China, the function of the media have a somewhat different. Here, the media, above all, namely the order, to explain government policy. What I find very interesting about the Chinese media landscape, is, that here in addition to the print media and news channels are a very intense debate on the Internet - much more intense, than in Germany. This is a new trend in China, perhaps a little going away from traditional media towards informal sources on the Internet. This has advantages- and disadvantages, But this trend has really impressed me. That's what we have in Europe is not in the same intensity.

The course provides for the German public the opportunity, to really see once, how and what everything here is discussed in the Chinese public and what opinions are on various topics. Projects such as “Voices from China” can help, the Chinese culture of debate in Germany to make known, What is perhaps even more interesting than, say, the official record.

And, this plurality in the Internet, which consists in China, can be known about such projects to the German public. At “Voices from China” is the German reader an overview of the Chinese blog discussions offered. This makes him aware, that China is a very pluralistic public debate on important and current topics, The course also contributes to strengthening civil society. The media are, in which individual citizens can participate directly. The Chinese trend is not as well known in Europe. This should perhaps learn more attention.

Can not these Internet discussion also contribute to the spread of false rumors, inflict great damage on the end can? Should not this also regulate?

The value of the Internet it is precisely, that you have a free discussion. You should allow as much free discussion, as seems possible, and so little control of rumors, Misstatements and prevent negative developments as necessary to make. If you want to correct rumors and other negative developments, should act as carefully as possible. One should not interfere with the discussion and do not restrict the freedom.

For several years, maintaining the German and the Chinese media, a regular exchange. These include, for example, the annual media forum and the project “Media Ambassador”. Could you please introduce briefly the projects? What successes have been achieved so far?

There are a number of important projects in this area. One of the most important is being organized by the Robert Bosch Foundation. It is a dialogue, participate in the particular editors, about the different working- and exchange of approaches and mutual prejudices and stereotypes, also to avoid future misunderstandings and mistakes in the mutual perception. The dialogue is very open and has been very successful. The last time he was held in Germany. Participants also came together for an interview with Helmut Schmidt. Later, the Chinese participants also received by President Wulff.
Then there is also a very successful media dialogue, which the federal government through the Institute for Foreign Relations (IfA) promotes. As we invite German and Chinese editors and journalists, The exchange then on specific subjects. The last time they met in Stuttgart, on local politics. It was of course primarily to Stuttgart 21 and the public response to the topic. The controversial issue and reporting it was analyzed by the German and Chinese journalists and discussed - how to handle it and how to report it.
A good program, to the point I want to, Ambassadors are the media of the Robert Bosch Foundation. This is an exchange program, participate in the younger journalists, which then go for three months in each other's country, to see there, as the other side works journalistic - and then it also reports.

You have just Stuttgart 21 addressed - such as the Chinese journalists have reacted, when they learn of the fierce debate and protests over the rebuilding of the Stuttgart main station?

I was not there, But what I've heard from some participants, for example,, that some Chinese participants were surprised, how long this whole process in Germany was, how long did this all and what difficulties there were in the implementation of such a project. In China, there are many times larger infrastructure projects, The draw is usually no such open protests by the population to be. I think, that was for both sides, a refreshing new experience: to see, but how different these projects - which in Germany some very critical, in China, but rather than the overall national development projects and so overwhelmingly positive - be included in the population.

The media is now an art - the exhibition “Art of Enlightenment” was opened last April in Beijing. Meanwhile, a number of forums and dialogues have been organized, have drawn the attention of the Chinese audience's. Were the objectives of events during the exhibition reaches your opinion already?

In our view, the event was an outstanding success. We had more than 350.000 Chinese visitors - which is perhaps even more important, that the exhibition was only a starting point for many other events - so it was a catalyst for dialogue between China and Germany. Against this background, the Enlightenment and the value, may have the selbige perhaps for China, discussed.
The exhibition ends in March. Started the dialogue, but we would like to continue beyond even.

2012 Celebrate the Federal Republic and the People's Republic of the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations. Could you please tell us finally look, what events are planned at the state level this year?

We have, next to the Cultural Year of China in Germany, also a number of other activities. In March, the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Cornelia Pieper, with a ceremony, the exhibition “Art of its interception” formally conclude. In April, Premier Wen Jiabao traveled to Germany and will visit there together with the Chancellor, the Hannover Fair, China is the host country. In May, the dialog “Future bridge” performed for the first time. This is a very important project in our view, involving on-going dialogue between young leaders from Germany and China should be built. The project will be carried out by the Mercator Foundation in Beijing and Chongqing. The actual anniversary is most 11. October. Since we are planning a big street festival to celebrate the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations, coupled with a ceremony, possibly in the Chinese National Theatre, probably come to the German Foreign Minister to Beijing will. It is also important for us from a political perspective, that Germany will open in this anniversary year, the fifth German Consulate General in Shenyang. These are the most important events and occasions, are planned this year. There are numerous high-profile German orchestra, coming later this year to perform in China, For example, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Symphony Orchestra of Leipzig, Dresden, Nuremberg and Frankfurt. Furthermore, the State Ballet of Hamburg, Stuttgart and in Berlin this year perform in various cities in China and intend the theater of Hamburg and Munich, continue their cooperation with their partners here in China.

Mr. Hartmann, We thank you for this interview.
(german.china.org / Marc-Stephan Arnold and Ren Bin, Beijing)

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