German business leaders warn against withdrawing from China

Berlin– A group of senior German business executives has warned against withdrawing from China, while acknowledging that Germany is right to redefine its relationship with Beijing.

The eight chief executives intervened in an article in Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Thursday, as Germany grapples with future business and political ties with China. The authors include the CEOs of industrial group Siemens, chemical maker BASF, technology company Bosch, auto parts supplier Schaeffler and the Port of Hamburg.

German companies’ factories in China and elsewhere in the world have greatly increased their competitiveness, they say, and that China has become the world’s second-largest and most dynamic market – “so our presence in China is particularly important for Germany’s economic strength. important. “

The authors argue that the potential of the Chinese market presents an opportunity to scale up faster and achieve greater success in other markets, leading to employment opportunities in Germany.

They said that, given China’s increasingly assertive behavior and the human rights situation in Xinjiang, “Germany today should define its relationship with China in a more nuanced way from the three dimensions of competition, cooperation and systemic competition.” But, they added, “in In the current public discussions, we believe there is an almost complete emphasis on systemic competition in language and concrete measures.”

“Despite all the challenges China and China face, we believe its underlying growth drivers will remain intact,” the authors wrote. “Withdrawing troops from China would cost us those opportunities.”

Chinese investment in Germany has been in focus in recent weeks as officials seek to balance strong commercial ties with a desire to avoid a repeat of Russia, which once supplied more than half of Germany’s gas and now supplies nothing.

Last month, Prime Minister Olaf Schultz’s ruling coalition debated whether to allow Chinese shipping company Cosco to buy a 35 percent stake in a container terminal in the Port of Hamburg. The cabinet finally approved COSCO to take a stake of less than 25 percent, ensuring it would not gain the ability to block corporate decision-making.

On Wednesday, the cabinet blocked the sale of a chip factory in Germany to the Swedish subsidiary of a Chinese company and a second planned investment, without elaborating.

Meanwhile, Scholz visited Beijing last week.

Scholz encourages business diversification, but discourages doing business with China. “We do not want to decouple from China,” he said before the trip, but “we will reduce one-sided dependence in the spirit of sensible diversification.”

In Thursday’s article, the CEOs agreed that “we must diversify risk”, such as in chips, batteries and raw materials.

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