China has long been a haven for foreign entrepreneurs. But the idea of exporting Western ideals in a lively exchange of goods was naïve. German industry urgently needs to rethink its trade relations with China.
By Karl-Heinz Büschemann
Should German entrepreneurs be concerned if a German Navy frigate leaves Wilhelmshaven? Should executives be concerned that a Canadian businessman has been sentenced to 11 years in prison in Beijing for suspected espionage? You should do it. Because both cases show the growing coldness between the trading partners. The Bavaria warship, which set sail for the China Sea in early August, is intended to demonstrate to Chinese leaders that Western nations view foreign policy threats to neighboring countries with growing mistrust. And the trial of Canadian Michael Spavor is a clear gesture from Beijing: it shows Westerners that they are not afraid to imprison representatives of foreign companies. The tense situation is likely to pose some problems for German companies that make a living from trading in China. China is the Federal Republic’s most important trading partner.