Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

New chapter in bilateral ties

By Song Tao (China Daily) Updated: 2012-08-29 07:27

New chapter in bilateral ties

China-Germany relations enjoy sound and steady growth, have gone beyond bilateral scope and got global significance

Premier Wen Jiabao and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will co-chair the second round of China-Germany governmental consultations in Beijing on Aug 30. It will be the German Chancellor's sixth visit to China in her seven years in office, and her second this year at the invitation of Premier Wen. Both the Chinese Premier and the German Chancellor will be heading a team of around 10 government ministers and vice-ministers in their discussion of ways to boost cooperation between China and Germany, as well as China and Europe.

The consultations mechanism, the first of its kind between China and a major Western country, is a creative move in China's relations with Germany and other Western countries. It ranks at the top in terms of the level, scale and scope among more than 40 dialogue mechanisms between China and Germany. Its launch represented another major upgrade of bilateral relations and a boost to exchange and cooperation in various areas since the two countries forged strategic partnership.

Despite the long distance and differences in history, culture, political system and phase of economic development, China-Germany relations keep making headway and accomplishments. It is the result of the evolving world economy, and conforms to the development needs of both sides.

The growth of China-Germany relations is closely linked with global economic developments. Since the outbreak of the international financial crisis, major economies in the world have seen anemic growth, leading to arrays of uncertainties and destabilizing factors for the prospect of growth around the globe. Trade protectionism is on the rise while some European countries are pounded by sovereign debt problems. In this context, China and Germany, both as major economies and world's manufacturing and exporting giants, have been working together to address the crisis. Their efforts have in turn boosted the bilateral cooperation in business and other fields. It has been instrumental for both economies to meet challenges and enhance economic growth, and, at the same time, beaconed positive messages of free trade, anti-protectionism and cooperation to shore up the world economy. China-Germany cooperation has generated positive influences on China-EU relations and the world at large, attracting great attention worldwide. There is still a long way to go before the crisis is over and unexpected situations may still crop up from time to time. Nevertheless, guided by the spirit of working side by side in meeting challenges, China and Germany have seen themselves more closely interconnected, and their mutual understanding and trust deepening constantly. This bilateral relationship, enjoying sustained, sound and steady growth, has gone beyond a bilateral scope and acquired global significance.

China-Germany relations would not have come this far if not for the strong complementarities between the two economies. China has abundant labor resources and rapidly growing emerging sectors, while Germany is leading the world in innovation, science and technology. There is a natural partnership in division of labor between China's labor intensive and emerging industries and Germany's technology-intensive sectors. China's strengths in textile and home appliances and Germany's competitiveness in automobiles and machinery cater to each other's needs. Germany is an export-oriented economy, while China has the largest market in the world. China is the most important overseas market for key German automobile, machinery, electronics and chemical sectors and Germany's largest trading partner outside the EU. Germany, in turn, is also China's top trading partner inside the EU and the No.1 source of technology transfer and investment. Strong complementarities have provided enormous scope of cooperation for the two countries and tangible benefits for their peoples.

China-Germany relations have been growing on a solid foundation that the two sides have built together. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. Over the past four decades, the two countries have been actively engaged in wide-ranging and all-dimensional cooperation at various levels, based on the principles of mutual respect, equality, mutual benefit and common development, and produced great results. Bilateral trade grew from $ 274 million 40 years ago to $169.2 billion in 2011, making up 30 percent of China-EU trade. It is encouraging to see that the success of events such as "Germany and China - Move Ahead Together" and Chinese Culture Year in Germany have substantially increased people-to-people interactions, deepened cultural exchanges and strengthened popular support for China-Germany friendship.

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