So many allegations are being leveled against China and so many rumors doing the rounds that Premier Wen Jiabao has had to deny that the investment environment in the country is worsening. During a meeting with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Xi'an, capital of Shanxi province, on July 17, he said foreign investment would not pour into a country where the investment environment was deteriorating.
Had the investment environment in China been worsening would David McAllister, state premier of Lower Saxony in Germany, headed a large delegation to China five days after taking office? Or, would 25 prominent German industrialists and a host of parliament members accompanied Merkel and half of her Cabinet ministers on their four-day visit to China from July 15?
The fact that they did so shows the importance German business and political leaders attach to China. Such has been the rise in the volume of Sino-German trade that it exceeded China's combined trade with Britain and France last year. Thanks to the booming Chinese auto market, which became the world's second largest last year, the German auto industry now expects to emerge from the global economic crisis faster than it had thought earlier.
China is willing to share its fruits of development with other countries. But countries that want to share them need to expedite their efforts and make reciprocal adjustments to their policies and outlook toward China. And instead of complaining about China's investment environment, European enterprises should try to get a better understanding of the country.
Though they have evolved from the European Community to today's European Union (EU), European governments still believe in the concept of "European fortress" in international trade. But they should realize that by imposing restrictions to block China's overseas investment in the EU, they will only deny member states the opportunity to cash in on the country's offers.
The EU and its member states need to create a better environment for Chinese commodities and investment to access their market. European enterprises hoping to benefit from the rising number of affluent Chinese consumers have to understand what the latter want and cater to their needs. Many European enterprises, especially the German service industry, should conduct serious research into the habits and preferences of Chinese tourists.
A report in the German edition of Financial Times on July 12 says Germany has become one of the most popular overseas destinations for Chinese tourists. About 400,000 Chinese traveled to the country last year alone. They were seen as the "best clients" by some jewelry and apparel boutiques for their buying power. The tourists, however, were disappointed with some hotels and restaurant staff because of their casual approach to service, especially food and accommodation. It is understandable, though, that German food, which isn't well known even in Europe, failed to win over the visitors from the "cuisine kingdom".
A country's academia and mass media play important roles in making its citizens better understand other countries and people. Unfortunately, the European academia and mass media have been found lacking on this front, partly because of their own ignorance or deliberate misinterpretation of facts. That there are not enough China experts in the EU countries is a fact recognized by China and the EU both - and even the US as a third party. Such a situation, in which information can be easily distorted, could harm bilateral understanding further.