What is the real China

China: The real China


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This will remain so. It is no coincidence that the former head of the American central bank, Alan Greenspan, attributes China to the decisive role in the creation of global prosperity. For Greenspan, “What the world will look like in 2030” depends on China. "If China continues to promote free market capitalism, it will bring the world to a new level of prosperity," he writes in his memoir.

But no German government politician would say anything similar in public today. Instead, Berlin is making Beijing an economic scapegoat. The Chinese are accused of “technology theft” and the protection of intellectual property has been declared the most important bilateral issue.

The suspicion of populism is here. China has the highest economic growth and the largest population in the world. Germany is the world champion in exports and in 2007 was still the third largest economy just ahead of China. In this global economic constellation, it is all too easy to interpret the rise of China as the decline of Germany. This makes it all the easier for many to be persuaded that the Chinese are taking away their wealth from the Germans. Politicians only have to send the appropriate signals - for example, use the words Transrapid and Technologieklau in one sentence. Every German then knows who is the bad winner and who is the good loser - even if the Germans, especially with the Transrapid, can be happy that China has opted for this technology that is not for sale anywhere else.

I accompanied Chancellor Angela Merkel on her two visits to China and had to repeatedly listen to such half-baked criticism of China in her delegation group, no trace of confidence in the previous German-Chinese cooperation. That didn't seem self-confident. Was it because of the desire to look for someone who was responsible for the economic and reform problems in Germany, who cannot defend himself against this guilty verdict?

German thinking about the Chinese economy is small-minded and short-sighted, especially since there is no reason to complain. Not even at the EU level: After all, European exports to China have doubled since 2000. European companies turned over $ 134 billion in China in 2006. There are 400 million new middle-class customers waiting for them. The trend is inevitable anyway. The 1.3 billion Chinese will never again be have-nots like they were in the last century. Only if they become even richer than they are today can they effectively contribute to solving global problems such as climate change. Germans can only hope and work towards this in a meaningful way.

The essay is from the new book: Georg Blume: China is not an evil empire
Edition Körber Foundation, Hamburg 2008; 110 pp., 10 €