translations from Chinese and German by JR. Links within blockquotes added during translation
Beijing Youthnet (北青网), August 31, 2012, 0715 local time (China)
Contrary to Thursday, which was packed with a political agenda, Friday is the day which is about “cultural tourism” and “economic cooperation trips”. Although this is Merkel’s sixth visit to China, this is the first time that she visits the Forbidden City. The scheduled fourty minutes of sightseeing let this German chancellor learn about Chinese history and culture first-hand, and deepen her comprehensive understanding of China.
After the visit to the Forbidden City, Chief State Councillor Wen Jiabao personally accompanies Merkel on her trip to Tianjin, on the high-speed Beijing-Tianjin railway, which is the first time for Merkel to travel on a Chinese high-speed train. Concerning this, Merkel, herself from a great country of high-speed trains, says that this trip lets her experience China’s rapid development.
The third “first”: this is Merkel’s first visit to Tianjin. Before, Merkel visited several Chinese cities, including Nanjing, Xi’an, and Guangzhou, but she is going to Tianjin for the first time. Tianjin is also Wen Jiabao’s hometown. During yesterday’s meeting with Merkel, Wen said that these Sino-German government consultations would be the last during the tenure of the current Chinese government. This means that if nothing extraordinary happens, this visit by Merkel will be the last one during which Wen will greet her in his capacity as Chief State Councillor. Merkel says that her stay as a guest in Wen’s hometown will be a memorable visit for her.
An important reason for Merkel to visit Tianjin is that Tianjin has become a focus of German companies in northern China. According to statistics, until July this year, 334 German-invested companies have been approved in Tianjin, and accumulated contractual investment is at more than 2.1 billion US dollars. Germany has also become the European country with the most companies investing in Tianjin.
During the time in Tianjin, Chief State Councillor Wen and Merkel held an hour of talks with Chinese and German entrepreneurs. This arrangement had been made during several of Merkel’s previous visits to China, too. In July 2010 and in February this year, when Merkel visited China, Wen held talks with Chinese and German entrepreneurs in Xi’an and Guangzhou, together with Merkel. This reflects the importance the two [heads of government] attach to listening to the comments and suggestions from entrepreneurs from both sides, concerning the development of Sino-German economic and trade cooperation. As for Merkel’s visit to China this time, an important goal is to further strengthen economic and trade cooperation with China. There are not only many entrepreneurs accompanying Merkel, but on Thursday, after the Sino-German government consultations, the two countries signed 13 agreemens concerning electric vehicles, biotechnology, climate protecton and other areas. The value of cooperation for the companies reached nearly seven billion US dollars.
There is an important item on Chief State Councillor Wen’s and Chancellor Merkel’s agenda in Tianjin; they take part in Airbus Tianjin Company‘s ceremony, as the 100th A320 plane is completed. The Airbus assembly line in Tianjin is the first comprehensive one of this aircraft company outside Europe, a product of Airbus cooperation with Chinese companies. Both [heads of government] are witnessing the moment when the 100th plane since August 2008 leaves the assembly line.
This production line is a win-win product for China and Europe. Airbus Tianjin Assembly Line general manager Shang Luguo said in an interview before that one of this projects biggest successes has been that it trained more than 400 Chinese technicians to master the world’s most advanced aircraft production technology. At the same time, it promoted China’s aviation industry’s development. China is currently conducting its own big-aircraft development program, and is learning from aircraft-building peers’ experience. This was very important for China, and this assembly line [in Tianjin] provided China with an opportunity to learn, which showed its importance.
Also, China and Germany signed the “second-term Airbus China Assembly Line agreement”, and a purchasing agreement about 50 A320 aircraft at 3.5 billion US dollars. Wen and Merkel witnessed the signing of the contracts. Earlier, there were reports saying that Airbus expected purchases of 100 planes, but in fact, China bought only 50.
Reuters, August 31, 2012
The European Commission has until next Friday to decide whether to launch an investigation into a complaint brought by European solar firms and people familiar with the case believe it may well go ahead and do so.
On Thursday, Merkel told reporters after talks with Wen that she favoured negotiations over confrontation in the matter, comments that were welcomed by the Chinese premier but stoked concern in the European industry.
But on Friday she appeared to row back on her conciliatory tone, saying Chinese solar firms needed to recognise that subsidies, such as bottom-rate bank loans, distorted competition and violated European law.
“We are not out of the woods yet,” she said. “My plea is that everyone be transparent, that they lay their cards on the table about how they produce.”
Der Spiegel, international online edition, August 31, 2012
The chancellor’s course on China, in fact, has slowly come to resemble the business-first policies pursued by her predecessor Gerhard Schröder. He almost surely approves of the lovely images of her visiting the Airbus plant in Tianjin, where she made a stop just before flying back to Berlin. The factory visit took place a day after a contract was signed for 50 new planes ordered by the Chinese.
Merkel, in fact, seems to have become almost completely domesticated by the economic gains made by the Asian superpower. She still, of course, addresses points of bilateral contention — during a press conference with her host Premier Wen Jiabao she requested that German press correspondents be treated better following repeated incidents of hassling. Beyond that, however, Merkel appeared overly considerate of a single-party dictatorship that pays little mind to human rights, neither at home in China nor elsewhere in the world.
Financial Times Deutschland, August 31, 2012, 1720 local time (Germany): Germany’s Submissive Bosses (Deutschlands devote Chefs)
When it comes to lobbying during the German-Chinese economic forum in Tianjin, it was Wen Jiabao and Angela Merkel who taught Peter Löscher and a few others some lessons. “Are there deficits in equal treatment for foreign companies in China?”, Wen followed up on Löscher’s vague opening statement, on which [Löscher] only goody-goody said: “I see it as a sign of trust that we can bring these issues forward with you personally.”
In Sachen Interessensvertretung waren es beim deutsch-chinesischen Wirtschaftsforum in Tianjin Wen Jiabao und Angela Merkel, die Peter Löscher und anderen ein paar Lektionen erteilten. “Gibt es in China denn auch Mängel in Sachen Gleichbehandlung für ausländische Unternehmen?”, hakte Wen nach Löschers vagem Eingangsstatement nach. Woraufhin der nur artig sagte: “Ich sehe es als Zeichen des Vertrauens, dass wir diese Themen bei Ihnen persönlich vorbringen können.”
It wasn’t the only moment when Wen or Merkel were compelled to actively encourage the top managers to complain. […]
Es war nicht der einzige Moment, in dem Wen oder Merkel die Topmanager aktiv zu Klagen ermutigen mussten. […]
Handelsblatt, August 31, 2012
[China’s] market may be the world’s biggest one – but the Chinese government continues to hamper investors. In the chancellor’s presence, German company bosses vented their furustrations. There are many reasons to complain.
Der Markt mag der größte der Welt sein – doch die chinesische Regierung stellt Investoren weiterhin Hürden. In Anwesenheit der Kanzlerin machten deutsche Firmenchefs ihrem Unmut Luft. Anlässe zur Klage gibt es viele.