On May 4, 2011, at the invitation of the Institute of European Studies (IES) at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), German ambassador, Dr. Michael Schaefer, gave a speech to the IES scholars and representatives from the Sub-society for German Studies under the Chinese Association of European Studies.
The German ambassador told the audience that, for many years, he has been following the interesting discussions in the west about the question “what is China?” He believed that China has two different feet, one still in the 19th century, meaning that many people are caught in poverty, and the other well into the 21st century, indicating that 200 million Chinese are much well-off today. “This is the contrast of reality we have to face,” said Schaefer.
Schaefer noted that China’s newly-published 12th five-year plan will lay emphasis on raising efficiency of resources and cutting carbon emission. This strategy will offer many opportunities of cooperation between China and the EU/Germany. He pointed out that the developed countries, including those in Europe, have made mistakes in history of failing to protect the environment. He wished that China and other emerging economies should not repeat these mistakes. So they must join efforts with the international community to deal with climate change and other environmental issues.
Schaefer expressed his recognition that China has made great economic achievements over the past three decades. As an important global player, the ambassador said, China should undertake more responsibility in strengthening global governance and solving global issues.
Regarding China’s relations with the EU and Germany, the ambassador was happy to point out that bilateral economic ties have been greatly strengthened, but difficulties still exit. He noted that many of Germany’s companies maintain their competitiveness by holding on several kinds of sophisticated technology or know-how. That is why these firms are quite concerned about the issues of intellectual property rights in China.
“When we make demands for China, we should realize the progress China has made. Like other Asian countries, China has different historic background and culture. Therefore, it has its own right to select a development path. But China also needs to hear criticism or suggestions from the outside,” said the ambassador.
Schaefer also talked about other issues. For instance, he said that the G20 is going to play a more important role not only the economic area, but also in other fields. He agreed that the emerging economies, like the G7 or G8, can also get united to coordinate their economic policies and discuss global issues. But he wished that the G7 and the BRICS, or the emerging economies as a whole, would not confront with each other on the world stage.
IES Direcotor Zhou Hong congratulated on Schaefer for offering his frank, thoughtful and sincere remarks. She said that deeper understanding through mutual exchanges of ideas and thoughts would consolidate the bilateral relations between China and the EU. Answering question about the crisis in Libya, Schaefer said it seems to be still too early to tell what would be the final result of the situation there. He said that Germany would participate in the joint efforts of the EU to provide ordinary people in Libya with humanitarian aid such as medicine and food.