Chancellor Angela Merkel is visiting Beijing to breathe new life into Germany China relations.
And during the trip, German companies have demonstrated a renewed sense of self-confidence during consultations with their Chinese counterparts, speaking openly about the difficulties they have in dealing with Asia’s largest economy.
On Monday, Prime Minister Li Keqiang and Chinese business leaders listened politely as Hubert Lienhard, chairman of the Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business and a member of her trade delegation, spoke about what he believed were Germany’s problems with China.
German business leaders in the room nodded in agreement as Mr. Lienhard complained about slow Internet, as well as forced joint ventures with Chinese companies and a lack of cyber security and reciprocal market access.
In particular, Mr. Lienhard complained about “forced technology transfers,” referring to the fact that the Chinese government often requires foreign companies to transfer technological know-how as a condition for gaining market access.
One participant in Monday’s talks told Handelsblatt on condition of anonymity that German companies felt they had struck unfair deals in the last round of bilateral consultations two years ago.
But the slowdown in China has busted the myth of Beijing’s economic invincibility, giving German business leaders more confidence and greater leverage over their Chinese competitors.
Twenty German business leaders have joined Ms. Merkel during her visit to China this week, including Kurt Bock of BASF, Joe Kaeser of Siemens and Heinrich Hiesinger of Thyssen-Krupp.