Merkel in China: old friend, younger than ever

Never before have official articles in China been adorned with such beautiful pictures of Angela Merkel, noted Johnny Erling, German daily’s Die Welt correspondent, as they were on her most recent visit to the country. A youthful, radiant, and color-boosted portrait of the now 56-year-old chancellor was chosen this time – in the past and on similar occasions, she had looked much older, Erling seems to remember.

Merkel’s meeting with the Dalai Lama in 2007 – “forgotten”. The clashes at the Copenhagen Climate Summit – “forgotten”. And the Chinese press refers to Martin Wolf‘s (Financial Times) Chermany concept – but without Wolf’s implied warning that the world’s biggest exporting countries could be fiddling at the expense of free global trade.

Arvind Subramanian of the Peterson Institute for International Economics and Center for Global Development wrote in June that it could be harder to prod Germany into the direction of expanding demand, than China. While China was an intentional mercantilist which had now made some contributions to rebalancing the global economy, Germany, as an accidental mercantilist, could hide behind the fact that the weakening of the euro was beyond its control. It would be hard to pressure the country, as its decisionmakers were frequently perceived as “prudent, deferred gratificationists, the far-sighted custodians of tomorrow, of the future, of our children”.

China Daily‘s Chinese edition doesn’t mention Martin Wolf’s (马丁·沃尔夫) concerns about Chermany (中德国) either.

“There is reason to believe that as China and Germany come closer to each other, Chermany will certainly attract attention, too [similarly to Chimerica].”

There are official Chinese reservations. The Chinese article lends an argument from an earlier article in English (also published by China Daily):

“But one should also note that during the recent development of Sino-German relations, some new unharmonious sounds appeared, too. In the old fields of cooperation, there was some antagonism. The relations were always seen as complementary. But facing China’s rapid rise, especially after China replaced Germany as the world’s biggest exporting country, some German media, as well as some in the political and economic spheres, have expressed irrational antagonism toward the Asian nation“. German views of China had become more negative, seeing China rather as a competitor, and demand that China should assume more responsibilities.”

Africa and Google are also mentioned by China Daily as samples of “negative” German media coverage. And somewhat indignant, China Daily realizes that Germans actually care about politics, too:

“Formerly contained areas now reveal disagreements. Political and ideological differences have always been negative factors in Sino-German relations, but they were always controllable. But recently, German officials have put pressure on China, concerning human rights questions, and German media have used all kinds of anniversaries to criticize China’s government, and even to question the government’s legitimacy, and its ability to govern.”

For sure, Merkel followed her traditional visiting pattern, in that she met with dissidents in China. One of them was He Weifang (贺卫方), a law professor and Charter 08 signatory who nominally teaches at Peking University but is apparently “exiled” in Xinjiang now.

He and Merkel discussed human rights, freedom of the press, and internet censorship. He had suggested that Merkel should take Chinese politicians to Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court to help them understand how an independent judiciary worked.

Meantime, China Daily keeps discussing soccer.

____________

Update/Related
Cadres: We Want to be Loved by You, July 16, 2010

Related
Geithner/Soros/Summers: “Growth Now”, June 23, 2010
No Global Governance, January 1, 2010
Unharmonious Days at the Voice of Germany, Nov 14, 2008

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