Opinion: Beijing gets to Brussels via Berlin | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 27.05.2013
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Opinion: Beijing gets to Brussels via Berlin

Li Keqiang’s visit shows that China attributes a special significance to its relationship with Germany, which is seen to be the key to Europe. However, Berlin should not become Beijing's instrument in Brussels.

The word among top Chinese officials in Beijing is that if you want to get something done in Brussels, you have to go via Berlin. Li Keqiang's visit to Berlin was in line with this logic. Germany is the only stop among EU member states on the new Chinese prime minister's maiden foreign tour. China considers Germany an important partner in Europe. It thinks its fears of protectionists trends are in good hands with Berlin. If there were an EU trade war with China, Germany would have the most to lose. China is Germany's third-largest trading partner.

The continuing high demand for German industrial products in China has been a significant factor in Germany's getting off rather lightly in the euro crisis. It is therefore not surprising that Chancellor Angela Merkel has clearly spoken out against tariffs as a trade dispute between the EU and China looms. Beijing also thinks Berlin is the most important actor in the euro crisis, which has been very troubling for China. Its economic growth has slowed as the demand for products from Chinese factories has fallen in the crisis zone.

Matthias von Hein (Photo: DW/Per Henriksen 10.10.2012)

Matthias von Hein, head of DW's Chinese section

Over 60 different types of government dialogues are currently being conducted between China and Germany. The Chinese prime minister's visit to Berlin was a sign that the quality of their bilateral relations, described as a "special relationship" would not change.

Attractive as this special relationship is to German industry in particular, it should not stand in the way of a common European policy towards China.

More than 60 different types of government dialogues are being conducted between China and Germany. The Chinese prime minister's visit showed that the quality of the bilateral relations would not change. They have been described as "special relations." Attractive as such "special relations" are to Germany's industrial sector, they should not stand in the way of a common European policy towards China. Europe should not be divided in its relations towards such a powerful partner as China. The economic giant that is the EU should not be dwarfed for political reasons. So long as there is no common EU policy towards China because of different conflicting interests, Berlin should at least consult closely with its most important European partners on what the approach to Beijing should be.

Only then will Europe be able to represent its values to the outside world. There are a whole series of contradictions. In her joint press conference with Li Keqiang, Angela Merkel pointed out that the two countries wanted to further develop their cultural relations. Let it not be forgotten, however, that when the Biennale opens in Venice on June 1., Ai Weiwei, who is showing work in the German pavilion, will not be there. He has notreceived permission to travel.

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