1. In your view, what does the Belt and Road Initiative mean for Germany?
From the point of view of the BVDSI, the BRI is the most important and largest infrastructure program in the world. It includes the opportunity for cooperative development of emerging economies with China. Here, the strengths of the German medium-sized business can contribute as an innovation engine and as an investment engine for the benefit of many.
2. What made you decide to set up this organization? According to the media reports, BVDSI is a lobbyist organization to promote cooperation with the frame of BRI. Have you already met with any policymakers and what did you discuss with them over the BRI and China? Do you have plans to meet with more German and European policymakers in the coming days?
The BVDSI sees itself as a representative of the interests of the medium-sized German economy, which has long maintained close economic ties in the countries along the new silk road. We are concerned with the creation of a competence platform for all German and international players on the subject of BRI. In particular, we support the implementation of regulatory conditions for the protection of German companies. We are, for example, supporting the protection of intellectual property, the securing of own investments, but also the fight against corruption and the avoidance of possible arbitrariness of the authorities. Certainly, we are constantly in dialogue with German and European politics. Our goal this year is to organize a German Silk Road Summit to initiate the dialogue between critics, advocates and those still undecided.
3. We would like to know, sincerely, what indeed are the concerns and anxiety from Geman society over the BRI? What should China do to clear up the situation and put off these doubts?
German politicians are still in the process of clarifying what effects the dynamic development of the BRI in Europe will have on securing the value creation potential of German companies in the countries along the new Silk Road. There are fears that the projects currently being planned and in question are not applying the EU’s standards of competition and, for example, tenders and environmental standards. But there are also questions about how German jobs will be affected if China continues to invest so heavily directly in Germany and in Europe and buys strategic companies. The most important and credible tool China can use to dispel doubts is a commitment to transparency. To this end, China should consider whether and how it may adopt German and Western standards in order to engage more closely with the doubters in the EU and in the Western world in a productive dialogue with regard to its own goals.
4. In which sectors do you believe Germany and China can further enhance its cooperation within the frame of BRI?
From the point of view of the BVDSI, this applies to a wide range of cooperative efforts. The BVDSI believes that only cooperation, and not isolation and confrontation will lead to sustainable wealth creation in all regions of the BRI. We hope that Germany will open up more and bring its strengths into the joint planning and implementation with China. We regularly hear this desire in talks with diplomatic representatives of the BRI countries. These fields include e.g. Infrastructure, digital economy, healthcare, education, energy, but also administration and state processes in the administrations to increase effectiveness.
5. Are you worried the entry of Chinese companies to Germany will represent competition or even threat to local companies?
Such fears indeed exist. These fears, which one must take very seriously, from the point of view of the BVDSI are based primarily on uncertainty. The West, and this includes Germany and the EU, are facing a new experience. Suddenly, China is no longer just the extended workbench of its own economies, but a global player at eye level. The dynamics of this development were foreseeable and yet politics did not see them coming at such speed and with such consequences.
6. There is a fierce controversy over the Chinese company Huawei these days. What´s your personal take on Huawei’s participation in the 5G construction in your country? And how do you evaluate the prospects of Sino-German cooperation in technological industries?
Germany is still one of the leading economies in the world. Unfortunately, our digital infrastructure is currently unable to meet the needs of the economy and the population. 5G is an absolute must. The application of Huawai to participate in the development of the German 5G, is from the point of view of the BVDSI welcome. We know that Huawei, unlike US competitors, is willing to reveal its source code. We regard this as an absolutely necessary condition, which, however, has to apply to all providers for competition law reasons. At the same time, we demand the realization of a European AI (Artificial Intelligence) industry so that Europe remains independent and can develop its technological core competencies purposefully. Why should such a European AI Nucleus not also strive for close cooperation with, for example, Huawei?
7. From your personal perspective, do you consider China as a rival to Germany or the EU? We noticed some German media use the term “Rivalisierende Partner” to describe Sino-EU relation. What´s your opinion on this statement?
We are talking about nothing less than a changing global competitive situation. Where is the problem if all market participants adhere to fair rules? Neither Europe nor the USA will be able to generate a sustainable future perspective by means of particular economic policies. Germany is proud of its social market economy. This is something other than market liberalism. The BVDSI sees in China a fast-growing economy that follows a plan. The answer to this cannot be confrontation, but only cooperation in the sense of fair competition for the benefit of humanity.
8. Do you know any other lobbyist organizations related to BRI in Germany or think tanks specialized in this topic?
In Germany there are many organizations and stakeholders dealing with BRI. However, until the founding of the BVDSI there was no competence platform, that tried to bundle these diverse and partly divergent activities and to use them purposefully to protect the interests of the German economy.