(Yicai Global) Nov. 3 -- Diplomatic and business relations between Germany and China have cooled since Berlin moved to block Chinese investment in Aixtron SE, a deal worth EUR670 million (USD744 million).
Aixtron would have joined a growing list of German companies bought by the Chinese, after Chinese home-appliance giant Midea Group Co. [SHE:000333] paid around EUR4 billion (USD4.4 billion) for Kuka Robotics back in August.
The Kuka acquisition was just the latest in a string of deals involving German companies such as Kion, Putzmeister and KraussMaffei, who have come under Chinese ownership in recent years. European media reported at the time that officials in Brussels and Berlin, including Germany's Economy Minister and Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel and European commissioner Guenther Oettinger, expressed concerns over German innovation, intellectual property, high-end technology, and technical insight being exported to China.
In response to the comments from European Union and German government officials about the investment environment in China, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded that China has always dedicated itself to the liberalization and facilitation of trade and investment and has become one of the most opened up developing economies.
"China will continue to further open up its domestic market to foreign countries, push forward reforms of the foreign investment administration system, and hope that relevant countries will provide Chinese companies with a fair and free investment environment", Hua Chunying, the ministry's spokesperson said during a press briefing.
German Vice Chancellor Gabriel is currently on an official visit in China. He wrote in an article published in the German press saying that if China wanted to be recognized as a market economy, it must play by the rules.
The EU hopes China could significantly improve relevant market entry criterion for foreign companies, ensure fair competition in the market, and eliminate discrimination against EU companies, Hans Dietmar Schweisgut, the EU Ambassador to China, wrote in an article on the EU Delegation to China's website, Nov 1.
European investment in China continued to grow in recent years, and is far greater than China's investment in Europe. There are more than 8,000 German companies operating in China, in sharp contrast to the less than 2,000 Chinese companies in Germany. The Chinese population is 16 times greater than that of Germany, Hua said.
Ambassador Schweisgut has worked in China for many years, and Hua hopes that he will talk about the Chinese investment environment objectively.
China also expressed deep concerns as to whether the EU would fulfill its obligations under Article 15 of the Protocol on China's Accession to the World Trade Organization to the agreed schedule. Timely fulfillment of Article 15 of the protocol is a legal obligation for the parties in line with the rules of the multilateral trading system binding on them, rather than a privilege accorded to China.
China hopes that the EU will act in good faith and in compliance with the law and perform its obligations under Article 15. In addition, WTO members should stop using "Subrogate Country" data in antidumping investigations concerning Chinese exports as from Dec. 11, 2016.