In the modern days of the Silk Road, Chinese leaders are followed not by camels but by cargo trains. The formal openings of new cargo routes were key to Xi Jinping’s visit to Germany in 2014 (Chongqing-Duisburg connection) and to Warsaw earlier this year (Chengdu-Warsaw line). This past weekend, Premier Li Keqiang visited Riga to attend the 5th Summit of Heads of State of Central and Eastern European countries and China under the so called 16+1 format, which was set up in 2012.
The future of US international trade and investment policy has been thrown into extraordinary uncertainty after the election of Donald Trump. In line with his campaign pledges the president-elect has announced to withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which was concluded this year. Under US law, such unilateral action on trade policy would not require Congressional approval.
Germany should brace itself for an attack on its status as the world’s top-notch carmaker. What can hurt the car nation more than Volkswagen’s diesel scandal and threats of higher import tariffs from the Trump administration is its failure to accelerate industrial transformation in the important field of e-mobility.
The new U.S. president and the Chinese government have one thing in common: they look at industrial policy from a national and territorial perspective. Under his slogan “America First,” Donald Trump wants to create new jobs on U.S. territory and to defend existing jobs against imports. One of the aims of China’s “Made in China 2025” strategy is to acquire foreign technological knowledge to leapfrog the development of China’s own manufacturing sector.
Over the past decade, Chinese investments in Europe in general and in Germany in particular have grown rapidly. This deal flow has remained strong and has accelerated despite, or perhaps because of, the recent slowdown of China’s economy. In fact, Chinese investments in Europe have reached new record levels in 2016.
Many of today’s greatest risks to global health originate in China. The latest outbreak of avian flu has claimed more than 160 lives since October 2016, triggering memories of earlier pandemics like SARS. The virus H7N9 has not yet spread to other countries, but according to international health authorities, it does have pandemic potential.
When China hosted the G20 summit in Hangzhou in 2016, an article in The Guardian hailed the event as “a new phase in the nation’s global economic confidence and leadership.” There is no question that G20 was a big milestone for China, but a much more obscure event – at least for a Western audience – might end up being more pivotal for China’s ability to lead globally.