As the curtain rises on the 30th anniversary of Sino-German relations, Chinese President Jiang Zemin left for Germany on April 8 carrying with him the best wishes of the Chinese people who tend to look on relations with Germany as an example of success in terms of China’s relations with the world powers -- especially Western powers. Jiang’s visit both underlines the recent history of Sino-German relations and sets a fine blueprint for the further advance of Sino-German relations.
Most would agree that Sino-German relations have developed smoothly with frequent high-level political exchanges as well as fruitful trade and economic cooperation and scientific and cultural exchanges.
The frequent high-level diplomatic visits are acknowledged to have helped guarantee the smooth development of Sino-German relations. From 1993 to 1998, German and Chinese leaders met face-to-face 52 times: Among those Chinese leaders who visited Germany were President Jiang Zemin; Qiao Shi, former chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC); and Li Peng, former premier and chairman of the NPC Standing.
Meanwhile, German leaders who visited China included President Roman Herzog, Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Foreign Minister Klaus Kinkel and Minister of State at the German Federal Foreign Office Ludger Volmer. Among these leaders, Chancellor Kohl visited China twice in 1993 and 1995. Since the new German government came into power in October 1998, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has paid three visits to China, a number that can only be envied by other European leaders.
One after another from Germany came Vice Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping, and Minister of Economics and Technology Werner Müller. At the same time, Germany welcomed Chinese Primer Zhu Rongji, Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan, State Councilor Wu Yi, Member of the Political Bureau of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee Wei Jianxing as well as Vice President Hu Jintao.
These exchanges of visits have promoted the understanding between Chinese and German peoples, cultivated the trust and friendship of leaders between the two states, strengthened the bilateral political relations, and provided a good political base for the deeper development of relations between the two countries.
Sino-German trade and economic relations serve as the base for the development of bilateral relations, which have been developing rapidly with great potential. So far, Germany is China's largest economic and trading partner in Europe. The trade volume between the two countries reached a record US$19.687 billion in 2000 compared to only US$273 million in 1972. The trade volume between China and Germany accounts for 24 percent of the total trade volume between China and Europe and 30 percent of the total trade volume between China and the 15 European Union member countries.
Further, Germany is first among European Union countries as an investor in China. Since the 1980s, dozens of famous German enterprises have opened factories in China. In 2000, the sales volume of Bayer AG reached US$685 million, making up 23 percent of its total sales in Asia-Pacific region as China became its second highest market after Japan. In 1997, Allianz became the first European Insurance Company to be allowed to open its subsidiary company in China. DaimlerChrysler conducted efficient cooperation with Chinese enterprises in cars, business vehicles, airlines, railways, service industry and power industry. Siemens, Volkswagen, Henkel and Bosch also performed well in China. According to German official statistics, the direct investment of German companies in China surpassed US$6.3 billion by the middle of 2001. During Gerhard Schröder’s China visit in November 2001, German companies signed 31 agreements for investment in China, the total volume is up to US$8.1 billion. Bayer alone signed investment agreements involving US$3.1 billion in the Shanghai Industrial Park.
What’s more, Germany is one of the countries which have exported the largest amount of technology to China. In 2000, China granted 858 contracts to import technology from Germany which involved contractual value of US$2.798 billion, just next to the United States. The cooperation in the field of development and aid is also good because the money the German government promised to aid the Chinese government since 1985 is about 6.389 billion marks, according to the Chinese Finance Ministry. The actual loan and additional loan from the German government used by the Chinese government amounted to US$4.031 billion. The major Sino-German cooperation is concentrated on professional education, poverty relief, environmental protection, transportation and basic equipment. So far, China has been one of the leading countries that receive German aid. The German Economic Cooperation and Development Minister declared that Germany has chosen nine important countries and eight partner countries from over 70 aided countries in Asia in 2001. China is one of the important countries.
The scientific, technological and cultural exchange between China and Germany has reached a certain level, too. China and Germany inked an inter-governmental agreement on scientific and technological cooperation back in October 1978. Under the framework of this agreement, the two sides also signed technological cooperation agreements in the fields of aerospace, maritime study and ocean technology. In 1993, the two countries signed the "Joint Statement on Conducting Cooperation in the Fields of Environment and Development between the Governments of China and Germany" and "Summary of Talks" aimed at furthering the inter-governmental cooperation in science and technology. In 1995, the two countries signed the "Memorandum of Understanding on the Establishment of Sino-Germany Hi-tech Forum.” The forum was put in place in April 1997. The Sino-Germany Joint Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation convened its 15th meeting in December 1999. The Chinese academies of sciences and social sciences and other research institutes established cooperative partnership with their German counterparts such as Max Plank and Frauenhof. On October 18, 2000, the Sino-German Science Promotion Center was established by National Natural Science Foundation of China and German United Research Association.
As for the cultural and educational field, the two countries signed a cultural exchange pact in 1979 and came up in 1997 with a cultural exchange plan for the years from 1997 to 1999. At this stage, the two countries are conducting various cultural exchanges at the governmental level, and there are also frequent non-governmental exchanges and commercial performances. In the middle of September 2001, “Asian and Pacific Week” was held in Berlin, capital of Germany, a high point of the cultural exchanges between the two sides. Chinese folk art and modern art impressed Germen people very much. At the same time, educational exchanges have developed rapidly. China sent some 26,000 students to study various subjects in Germany from 1974 to 1999. After the year 2000, the number of Chinese students going to study in Germany has increased greatly. Germany sent about 1,880 students to study in China from 1973 to 1999. At present, China is host to some 1,270 German students. Inter-school relations have been established between 120 schools of higher learning in both China and Germany.
(Dr. Sun Keqin is vice-director of the European Research Section under China Modern International Relations Institute)
(china.org.cn, translated by Zheng Guihong, April 8, 2002)