More common interestsUS

Updated: 2013-05-27 07:10

By Jiang Shixue (China Daily)

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Tapping the potential of their complementary economies will further strengthen relations between China and Germany

This year not only marks the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership, it also marks the 10th anniversary of the publication of China's first European Union policy paper, which spelled out the objectives for China's EU policy and outlined plans and measures for bilateral cooperation. So Premier Li Keqiang's visit to Europe as part of his first overseas trip since taking office is of great significance.

Germany is the second European stop on Premier Li's first overseas trip. Since China and Germany established diplomatic relations in 1972 leaders of the two countries have been meeting frequently. During former Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Germany in 2004, the two countries announced the launch of the China-Germany partnership with global responsibility within the framework of the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership and agreed to establish an annual meeting mechanism between the two heads of state. During German Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to China in 2010, the two countries released a joint communiqu on comprehensively promoting their strategic partnership, and agreed to establish a governmental consultation mechanism between both countries, the first and highest such mechanism between China and a Western country.

Merkel was the first foreign leader to talk to Li after he became premier in March. In their telephone conversation Li said he would like to maintain close contact with Merkel so as to jointly enhance cooperation between the two countries in all sectors and further promote bilateral relations.

However, some people in Europe have complained that the Sino-German "special relationship" has affected the EU's policymaking on China, and some have even argued that Berlin is gradually replacing the role of Brussels in steering the EU's China policy. Such claims are ridiculous. In today's world, any kind of bilateral relationship is unique and therefore can be labeled a special relationship. Germany will never develop its relations with China at the cost of the interests of the EU.

Although the Sino-German relationship is positive on the whole, it has not been all plain sailing. For example, Merkel's meeting with the Dalai Lama in 2007 gravely harmed relations between the two countries. But the two countries conducted consultations many times to overcome the difficulties, and after the German government stated it would continue to firmly adhere to the one-China policy, recognize that Taiwan and Tibet are Chinese territories, firmly oppose Taiwan's "referendum on UN membership" and would not support or encourage Tibet's independence, China-Germany relations improved.

However, there is new obstacle facing Sino-German relations. The EU plans to impose provisional import duties on Chinese-made photovoltaic products. The initiator of the action is German company Solarworld AG.

The development process of Sino-German relations over the past four decades shows that the two countries have more common interests than differences, more cooperation than competition. China's new leadership accords great importance to its relations with Germany and would like to further the cooperation and strategic partnership between the two nations.

In the future, the two sides should do more to realize mutual respect and understanding. They should increase mutual trust, seek common ground and avoid hurting each other's core interests. Differences in history, culture, political systems and stages of development between China and Germany should not be barriers to cooperation, they should be seen as complementary factors and diversity.

The two sides should further deepen economic and trade relations. China has a huge market and abundant labor resources while Germany is capable of producing highly competitive products and is a world leader in manufacturing technology. The two economies are highly complementary, the potential of which can be fully tapped through China's market for technology and Germany's technology for the market.

China hopes to use its huge market in exchange for advanced technology from Germany, while Germany is willing to gain more market share in China by virtue of its advanced technology. This undoubtedly will produce real win-win results.

In order to push bilateral economic and trade relations to new heights, Germany should increase the share of high- and new-tech products in its trade with China, while China should pay more attention to intellectual property protection and keep markets open.

The author is deputy director of the Institute of European Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

(China Daily USA 05/27/2013 page11)