|Angela Merkel and her cabinet colleagues are trying to master the old art of kowtowing in Beijing.|
There was a time when German chancellor Angela Merkel dared to openly criticize China´s communist rulers for the massive human rights violations in their country:
She met with the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetans, at the Chancellery in September 2007. Opinion polls showed that it was a very popular decision. Beijing, however, perceived the chancellor's behavior as a provocation, especially as Merkel had met with the Chinese prime minister a short time earlier, without telling him about her plans. The mood did not improve when she declined to attend the Beijing Olympics in 2008
But that was long ago.
Now the only thing that seems to matter for this lady is money and economic interests. Gross human rights violations and prison camps with thousands of slave laborers are on the back burner when there is a chance to sell more German Mercedes, Audi and BMW luxury cars to newly rich Chinese:
"Merkel is far more reserved on human rights issues than she used to be," says Eberhard Sandschneider, director of the German Council on Foreign Relations. "She has a new, more pragmatic approach to Beijing. Now she is more likely to be motivated by classic power politics. The days of reprimands are over."
"The theme is business as usual," said Eberhard Sandschneider, director of the German Council on Foreign Relations. "Don't expect much progress in terms of intellectual-property rights from this visit."
While Germany still exports more to the U.S., and far more to the European Union, than to China, the Chinese market has been one of the fastest sources of growth for German companies in recent years, helping to offset weak growth in advanced economies since the global financial crisis.
German exports to China were 206% higher in 2011 than in 2005, compared with only a 24% increase in exports to the rest of the European Union and 6.3% to the U.S., according to German government data.
Merkel is also joining many previous European beggars in Beijing who have tried to excel in the art of kowtowing:
In fact, Merkel reportedly plans to directly ask China for aid in combating the ongoing euro debt crisis in Europe. Senior government officials say she will bring up the issue of whether the Chinese would like to directly purchase sovereign bonds of Spain and Italy, the two major ailing euro-zone countries, arguing that their high yields makes them an attractive investment.
Although both the Germans and the Chinese are going to put a spin on the "results" of the German visit, Merkel will not have very much to take home from Beijing. The Chinese growth is slowing down, and China is not going to bail out the failed euro countries.