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article imageOp-Ed: Germany boosts economic ties with China

By Ken Hanly     Jul 7, 2014 in Politics
Beijing - Angela Merkel the German Chancellor is making her seventh visit to China since 2005. With Merkel are important German business people.
Merkel landed in the city of Chengdu in southwestern China where she toured a plant operated by German auto maker Volkswagen. She then went on to Beijing to meet with the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and attend a banquet. Both Li and Merkel stressed the importance of the business cooperation between the two countries. A number of economic agreements were signed including agreements on two new Volkswagen factories and the sale of 123 Airbus helicopters. Merkel's business entourage included executives from Siemens, Airbus, Lufthansa and Deutsche Bank among other companies, according to German media.
A German intelligence chief Georg Maassen of BfV the German domestic intelligence agency warned about Chinese industrial espionage especially small and medium-sized family firms: "They often don't really know what their crown jewels are or what the other side is interested in, They are up against very powerful adversaries. The Chinese technical intelligence agency alone has over 100,000 employees,"
German intelligence has close links to US intelligence. The warning echoes those of the US even though Snowden releases show that the US has spied on Chinese firms and on Germany as well.
Chinese companies are seeking access to advanced German technology. Well-off Chinese seek out German products such as Audi vehicles and home appliances. China is Germany's second largest export market outside of Europe. The US is the largest. In 2013 Germany sold a total of $91 billion worth of goods to China. Imports from China were even more at $99 billion.
Although Merkel will discuss human rights with Chinese officials, it will be out of the public eye and not accompanied by lectures about Chinese failures in that area. The Chinese news outlet Xinhua said: "It is fair to say that China-Germany relations are at their best in history, which have been strongly underpinned by the pragmatic cooperation between the two economic heavyweights".
When it comes to human rights versus business, usually business triumphs. However, simply raising the issues without taking steps to change the situation is not likely to be fruitful in any event. Even our own Stephen Harper seems to take a pragmatic view most of the time emphasizing business rather than human rights in relations with China.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Angela merkel, Germany China relations, Volkswagen
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