China in the Year of the Fire Rooster: Many Eyes on Economic Policy

Red lanterns herald the beginning of the Year of the Fire Rooster in China. © Fotolia / beltsazar

China has entered the year of the fire rooster. The Chinese New Year, which started in late January, is the most important public holiday in China. Following the election of US President Donald Trump, many European companies are looking East at the beginning of the new year. Thanks to its representation in Beijing, the BDI has its finger on the pulse of developments in China.

The German industry has become increasingly international in the last few decades. After all, the German economic model would be unthinkable today without its integration into global trade. The BDI is thus increasingly representing the interests of its members at the international level. China is a case in point. The country is Germany’s most important trading partner in Asia and, conversely, Germany is China’s top partner in the EU. The good relations between the two countries are the outcome of closely coordinated cooperation and careful observation of the partner country’s political processes.

The People’s Republic of China is currently undergoing a major phase of transformation, initiated by the Chinese government in 2013 through an extensive raft of reforms. It is therefore very important for German industries to be informed not just of developments in their own sectors in China, but also to have a clearer understanding of general developments in Chinese economic policy. That way, the industry can represent its interests in China more effectively. At the same time, the BDI representation in Beijing is also a reliable and trustworthy point of contact for Chinese partners, for ministries, companies, associations, universities and think tanks.

Looking at China from the Beijing Perspective

Obviously, it makes a big difference whether the changes in China are observed from Berlin or from Beijing. Both perspectives are necessary in order to gain a full picture of the opportunities and risks facing German companies in China. The speech of Chinese President Xi Jinping at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2017 attracted particular attention. Xi spoke out strongly in defence of economic globalisation and signalled his readiness for transparent free trade agreements. In this context it is particularly important to follow developments closely and attentively: “The global shift of power towards Asia – above all to China and India – is already in full swing,” says Hanna Müller, head of the BDI representation in Beijing, adding: “The future strength and competitiveness of German industry will increasingly depend on how we deal with the rise of Asia and whether we are well prepared. To succeed here, we need to be able to experience and accompany developments and processes on the ground.”


For the opening of the BDI representation in Beijing last autumn, then-BDI-President Ulrich Grillo (left) visited China and the Head of the BDI's Beijing Office, Hanna Müller (right). © Du Yusen
The audience listens as Ulrich Grillo announces the opening of the BDI representation in Beijing. © Du Yusen
Name cards are key: Hanna Müller, Head of the BDI Office in Beijing, keeps good contacts with representatives from Chinese industries and politics. © Du Yusen
Open for business: Whenever colleagues from BDI's Berlin headquarters visit, Beijing Office Head Hanna Müller is happy to host them (left, here with Patricia Schetelig, Senior Manager China). © Du Yusen