Chancellor Merkel expected to talk trade on three-day China visit

World Today

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to arrive in China Thursday.

She’ll meet President Xi Jinping to talk trade, but her visit comes at a time of concern over other issues including the unrest in Hong Kong.

CGTN’s Natalie Carney reports.

Cars, electric vehicles to be exact, is one of the most promising sectors between China and Germany.

While China presents the largest EV consumer market in the world, Germany presents some of the best minds behind its development.

Chinese car manufacturer NIO has been tapping into that know-how with close to 200 employees in Munich.

Zhang Hui, the company’s Vice President for Europe and the Vice-Chair of the Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Germany, will be one of the many businessmen heading to China for Chancellor Merkel’s visit.

“2018 the bilateral trade number was 200 billion euros. So it’s actually another new high between both countries. And China stays the biggest trade partner for Germany,” Zhang said. “On the other hand, Germany is the biggest trade partner for China in Europe. And besides that, both countries are very much in favor of free trade and globalization.”

The visit will be Merkel’s 12th to China since she became chancellor in 2005.

As in previous years, she is expected to continue dialogue with Beijing on an investment treaty between China and the EU.

But according to Omar Serrano, a Research Associate at the School of Governance in the Technical University of Munich and a China expert, foreign investment regulations, protests in Hong Kong and security issues with Chinese telecoms giant Huawei keep many EU nations cautious about becoming too close with Beijing.

“We do see some areas where there is potential for cooperation like climate change and so on where clearly both countries see eye to eye or you know, the nuclear deal with Iran,” Serrano said. “But of course there are other areas that there are really concerns, we mentioned Hong Kong protests, I think that is one issue I think Merkel will certainly bring up. The priority I think is on the economic side though.”

And that’s where the strength in their mutually beneficial relationship lies Zhang said.

“There is more and more Chinese so-called FDI, so foreign direct investment into Germany, especially in the automotive industry,” Zhang said. “On the other hand, Germany invested in China even last year with over 500 FDI projects. We need each other and we live with each other.”

Merkel is also expected to meet with the Chinese President and Premier, and with a large business delegation, take part in talks with the China-Germany Economic Advisory Committee.