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德國“隱形冠軍之父”談中國製造:不要空想

http://dailynews.sina.com   2019年03月08日 01:11   中國新聞網

  原標題:國是訪問丨德國“隱形冠軍之父”談中國製造:要實事求是,不要空想

  德國人開始意識到,德國在工業領域的優勢正在逐漸消失。

  中國、韓國等後發工業國家通過發展先進技術、海外併購等措施迅速崛起,正在不斷縮短與德國之間的差距。

  但善於反思的德國人並沒有簡單地用加徵關稅的方式解決這個問題,而是反問了自己一個問題:在全球化趨勢不斷髮展、創新進程極大加快、其他國家擴張性和保護主義工業政策日益擡頭的背景下,如何維護“德國製造”的領先優勢和可持續發展?

  德國人用一份國家戰略回答了這個問題,在最近發佈的德國《國家工業戰略2030》中,提出通過國家適度干預重點工業領域,打造德國或歐洲的龍頭企業,繼續保持德國工業在歐洲乃至全球的競爭力。

  值得一提的是,在《國家工業戰略2030》中,特別強調了“隱形冠軍”對德國工業的重要性。

  德國管理學教授赫爾曼·西蒙提出了“隱形冠軍”的概念,他也因此被稱爲“隱形冠軍之父”。他對於隱形冠軍的定義是:全球市場佔有率第一或第二;年產值在二十億歐元左右;鮮爲大衆所知。

 德國管理學教授赫爾曼·西蒙 受訪者供圖 德國管理學教授赫爾曼·西蒙 受訪者供圖

  按此標準,德國是全球隱形冠軍企業最多的國家,有近1400家,佔全球總數的近50%。

  德國是步入服務化社會的發達國家,仍然提出提高製造業在GDP中的比重,仍在不斷強調製造業的主導地位。對於中國而言,加快從“製造大國”走向“製造強國”愈發顯得必要而緊迫。

  這一目標該如何實施?爲此,中國新聞社國是直通車專訪了赫爾曼·西蒙。他思考縝密,見解獨到,特別是對中國有相當程度的研究,對複雜多元問題的深刻細緻回答,使這一專訪的學術內涵和實踐意義凸顯。

  以下爲訪談實錄翻譯:

  中新社國是直通車:在我們談論具體問題之前,你能否與我們分享一下你對作爲“世界工廠”的中國的製造業能力的總體印象?

  西蒙:正如多年來人們所預料的那樣,中國已經成爲“世界工廠”。中國經歷了從低成本、低價格、低質量的生產者到中等成本和價格、有質量的生產者的轉變。在某些行業,中國企業已成爲世界級的製造商,鐵路就是一個很好的例子。但總的來說,中國產品的質量還沒有達到德國產品的水平。重要的是要做到實事求是,而不要空想。客觀質量是一方面,感知質量是另一方面。感知質量是通過客觀質量加上品牌來塑造的。品牌塑造仍然是中國企業的一個短板。世界百強企業中只有兩家是中國企業,華爲排在第70位,聯想排在第100位。

  中新社國是直通車:作爲話題的延續,在改革開放政策堅定實施的過去四十年中,你如何評價中國的技術進步?爲什麼技術和創新在新經濟中如此重要?

  西蒙:當然,衆所周知,中國的技術進步已經遠遠超出預期。僅僅在十年前,沒有人會想到中國能在如此短的時間內達到現在的水平。在德國,我們談到了20世紀50年代的“經濟奇蹟”。中國的“經濟奇蹟”至少和德國的一樣令人印象深刻,如果不是更令人印象深刻的話。但我也再次強調現實主義的重要性。中國不能因爲如此巨大進步而變得過於自信和自滿。在許多領域,美國仍然是技術的領導者,並將在未來長時間裏保持這一地位。空中客車是一家強大的歐洲公司,但據其首席執行官稱,空客飛機上90%的電子設備均來自美國。

  中新社國是直通車:中美貿易緊張局勢已對世界貿易和經濟產生重大負面影響,這是有目共睹的,並且目前尚未有徹底的解決方案。你對這一問題有何看法?如果世界最大的兩個經濟體之間衝突不斷升級,德國商界應該如何應對?

  西蒙:我希望在3月底之前能找到一個可行的解決方案。這次貿易衝突對中國、美國和德國都是真正的風險。川普是無法估量和預料的。他的顧問納瓦羅的書是非常反華,但中國也應該改變其策略。只要人們認爲他們可以竊取技術,就會存在嚴重貿易戰的風險。如果中國和美國均堅持展示自己的實力,就難以達成好的結果。需再次強調現實主義的重要性。我希望有關各方能夠堅信相互依存性,而不是堅信自己能打贏貿易戰。正如德國從上世紀30年代吸取的教訓,貿易戰中不存在贏家。在德國,我們也非常擔心。我們比中國和美國更加依賴和平貿易,德國近一半的GDP來自出口,許多德國公司在中國生產產品並將產品從中國出口到美國。

  中新社國是直通車:2018年12月19日,德國聯邦議院修訂了《外國投資監管條例》,將監管審查的股權比例從25%降至10%。雖然它可能不是直接針對中國企業在德國的併購活動,但可能對中國企業產生巨大影響。你認爲新法規的真正目的是什麼?如何進一步解決國家安全與經濟合作,特別是與中國合作之間的兩難困境?

  西蒙:我個人認爲新法規沒有意義。但它反映了政治家、業界人士,或許還有大多數德國人的情緒。在我看來,德國政府應該致力於爲德國和外國公司在華創造一個公平的競爭環境,而不是阻礙外國和中國在德投資。我不認爲新規則會產生太大影響。在一些關鍵領域,例如基礎設施或國防,這些限制是可以理解和有意義的,但對90%的經濟來說,這些限制都是無稽之談。過去3年,中國投資者收購了162家德國公司,與之相對應,我們只收購了32家中國公司。這種數字的不平衡本身不是問題。問題在於,一些中國企業的收購相當激進。我認爲,“中國製造”的過度宣傳對中國在海外的投資造成了損害。的確,中國的海外投資非常成功。但我建議中國少誇耀這種成功以及隨之而來的實力。中國收購者往往付出很高的代價。雖然這可能對賣家有利,但政界和公衆並不看好。爲什麼?因爲過高的價格會讓人懷疑這些是政治性收購而非純粹的商業收購。

  中新社國是直通車:從以貨物出口導向的國家到以資本和技術爲重點的對外投資國家,中國的投資足跡廣泛延伸。由於德國的製造業實力以及兩國之間的互補性,德國一直是中國資金最重要的東道國之一,從經濟和ESG的視角,你如何看待中國投資在德國的作用?關於新出臺的法規,對中德合作有什麼重大影響?會對德國經濟產生什麼影響?

  西蒙:正如我所說的,我不認爲會有大的影響。德國實際上需要更多的中國投資。目前,只有一家中國綠地工廠在德國運營。實際上,各州和各城市都在爭奪中國的投資,這與聯邦政府的限制截然相反。中德是理想的合作伙伴,必須找到合作的方式和途徑。在過去這種合作非常有效,但如果過於自信,雙方都不會獲益。

  中新社國是直通車:中國是德國最大的貿易伙伴,有一派觀點認爲,德國商界必須擺脫對中國的過度依賴。事實上,中國在學習和實踐德國的技術專長和管理技能,中國對德國的依賴似乎表現得更爲明顯。你認爲這種雙向貿易和經濟交流對雙方甚至世界其他地區都有利嗎?如果中國企業在併購交易中存在不當行爲,你有何建議來解決這些問題?

  西蒙:我不會談及每個國家普遍的過度相互依賴。這是全球化的一大優勢,它是一種風險分散機制。如果我們與許多國家進行更多和更大的貿易,這意味着每個國家對單一市場的依賴度更低。我也不會說依賴關係是非對稱的。德國非常依賴中國作爲目標市場,在這方面比中國對德國的依賴更多。另一方面,中國強烈依賴德國的投資和製造能力。在中國有大約有8500家德國公司,他們經營着2000多家工廠,在太倉就有300多家德國公司。如果這種現狀受到阻礙,肯定對中國不利。我不認爲我們可以普遍指責收購德國公司的中國收購者行爲不當。對絕大多數人來說,情況恰恰相反。確實存在一些不端行爲的案例,但我認爲他們的比例低於收購德國公司的美國收購者比例。同樣,我們遇到了溝通問題。中國人應該更加公開地就他們的計劃進行溝通。媒體傾向於報道負面的案例並將其放大,但如果事情進展順利,則不會進行報道。

  中新社國是直通車:目前全球化在一定程度上出現倒退,但商品、資本、人員和信息的交流必將延續下去。你認爲德中兩國如何共同應對貿易保護主義和地緣政治角力的短期挑戰,以開啓人類美好未來的長期征程?

  西蒙:我們不是需要更少,而是需要更多的全球化。如果印度或非洲不能向發達國家出口更多,也不能從發達國家進口更多,他們就沒有機會迎頭趕上。中國和德國可以成爲自由貿易的榜樣。他們是全球貿易的領導者,因此可以通過在歐洲、中國和其他地區之間創造的自由貿易流動來發揮巨大的影響力。這應該會促使美國最終效仿。

  中新社國是直通車:中小企業被認爲是任何經濟體的支柱。德國在這方面非常成功,尤其是在中小企業領域,大量的“隱形冠軍”已經出現。你是這個領域的傑出學者之一,或許是對中小企業這個獨特領域的發展分析最透徹也是最有資格給出建議的學者。那麼你認爲,以中小企業爲核心的“德國模式”自下而上促進整體經濟的本質是什麼呢?在整個過程中嵌入了哪些技術因素?

  西蒙:在德國,並不是政府造就了強大的中等規模行業和衆多隱形冠軍,事實恰恰相反。通過提供一個穩定的政治環境,讓他們自由生長,中小企業方可以蓬勃發展。沒有單一的因素可以解釋中小企業和隱形冠軍的持續成功。重要因素包括尋求成爲世界最優的企業家雄心,專注於細分市場,以及全球化。隱形冠軍也非常具有創新性,這不單純是技術問題,而是客戶需求與技術的整合。不過,作爲德國競爭力支柱之一的職業培訓,是政府發揮決定性作用的領域。公司提供學徒制培訓,政府管理職業學校。技術大學在與公司密切合作方面也發揮着關鍵作用。

  中新社國是直通車:近年來,中國再次展現了對外開放的高度承諾,進一步優化了外商投資負面清單和持股比例條件。如何評價中國發展開放型經濟的決心和行動,這將給德國企業帶來哪些機遇?

  西蒙:我非常認可中國的開放和相關限制的取消,這是正確的做法。但坦率地說,人們並不認爲這是一種始終如一的做法。某些事件確實損害了人們對開放的嚴肅性的認識。中國必須更加嚴格地保護知識產權並消除腐敗。

  中新社國是直通車:在談到中國的海外投資時,“一帶一路”地區是不可或缺的,中國對在“一帶一路”倡議下開展合作持開放態度。作爲一名傑出的學者,對這一發展倡議有何看法?

  西蒙:“一帶一路”倡議意義重大。但中國不應忘記,它正在與許多弱小得多的國家打交道,這些國家很容易感到被一個非常強大的中國所主宰。我認爲應該更加細緻地處理這一倡議。這絕不是你做什麼的問題,而是你如何做,尤其是你如何做好溝通。

  中新社國是直通車:技術轉讓和商業互惠是跨國投資研究的熱點和不可避免的話題。對所謂的“強制技術轉讓”你有何建議?我們如何在德國和中國之間建立更加互惠的關係,特別是在金融和工業投資領域?

  西蒙:在發展的早期階段,強制技術轉移可能是必要的。今天,中國處於優勢地位,任何強制或不適當的技術轉讓都應該放棄。我認爲兩國也應該停止從德國公司或中國公司角度考慮問題。現代的公司沒有國籍。德國公司在中國經營一家好的工廠,對中國來說是一件幸事。一家在德國經營優質工廠的中國公司對德國來說是也一件幸事。我經常說,德國企業必須成爲中國企業,中國企業同樣也必須成爲德國企業。我創建的諮詢公司,僱員來自68個國家,在全球38個辦事處工作。我們的原產地是德國,但我們不是德國公司。在北京和上海,我們是一家中國公司,我們所有的員工都是中國人。我個人認爲我們公司已經超越了民族主義的範疇。但政客們和大多數人仍在以國家如果不是民族主義的角度思考問題。其結果就是我們今天所看到的貿易緊張局勢和全球價值鏈被破壞的危險。

  中新社國是直通車:德國主要商業遊說團體德國工業聯合會(BDI)在一份政策報告中建議,政府應保護德國的開放模式不受“國有經濟主導的”中國經濟的影響,對此你有何看法?

  西蒙:德國工業聯合會(BDI)發佈的《合作伙伴和系統性競爭對手——我們應該如何應對中國國有經濟》是一份全面的報告,涉及中德合作的許多重要方面。該報告對中國持批評態度,但並非不友好。我認爲,雙方都意識到他們相互依賴,必須找到妥協的辦法。同時,報告也明確指出,中德兩國的政治制度有着根本的不同。這在純粹的商業層面上並不重要,但在中國政府幹預的情況下,這就變得至關重要。到目前爲止,這些分歧都被掩蓋起來了。由於中國企業的成功,尤其是大量收購交易的成功,德國和世界其他地區對這種差異的認識已大幅提高。這一變化並不總是給人以中方完全理解的印象。在西方,人們懷疑中國政府或政黨是否系統性地置身於商業事務之外。在我看來,如果中國想在出口和外國投資方面繼續像以前那樣成功,這是極其重要的。信任是國際貿易中最重要的因素之一。當然,在西方也不是所有的東西都是百分之百獨立的。西方情報機構是否以及如何獲取商業數據或許我們只能猜測,但至少有明確的法律分界線。德國企業和協會也應該承認,它們無法改變中國的某些政治狀況。如果想在中國做生意,就必須接受中國的制度框架。然而,要有平等和公平對待的權利,每個夥伴都應堅持這一權利。

  中新社國是直通車:我們注意到近期德國政府發佈《國家工業戰略2030》,旨在面對中美激烈競爭時繼續保持領先。幾個產業被認定爲是德國製造的傑出代表,政府將予以支持。換言之,就是政府更趨於保護主義。你怎麼解讀德國政府更加介入商業活動的這種方向性變化?對作爲德國產業支柱的中小企業有何影響?同時,如何在充分考慮政策變量的基礎上實現中國和德國的雙贏?

  西蒙:對德國經濟部發布的這份新產業戰略各界意見不一,主流觀點認爲類似的產業政策在法國更爲典型,而非德國。不過,該方案對中小企業和隱形冠軍的影響有限。

  中新社國是直通車:在後默克爾時代,部分以AKK成爲基督教民主聯盟新的領導人爲標誌,你認爲可能會出現哪些變化,對中德經濟關係有哪些重大影響?

  西蒙:我對德國持樂觀態度。但是,我們非常依賴歐洲、美國,也非常依賴中國。在這種背景下,中德關係是最不緊迫的問題之一。正如我在多次會談中所說,中德兩國非常融洽。我們有一種工業精神,人們努力工作,文化上也沒有衝突。例如,大約有30萬中國人生活在德國。不像其他少數民族,他們不會造成任何麻煩。我想在德國看到更多的中國工廠和公司。我也希望德國和外國公司能夠更加自由地進入中國市場。這將惠及所有國家。

  附英文實錄:

  CNS: Before we touch upon the specific questions, could you share with us your general impression on China’s manufacturing capability given its “world factory” or “the workshop of the world” status?

  Simon: China has become the factory of the world, as expected for many years。 It has gone through a transformation from low cost, low price, low quality producer to a medium cost, price, quality producer。 In some sectors Chinese companies are world-class manufacturers, a good example are railroads。 But in general the quality of typical Chinese products is not yet at the level of German products。 It is important to be realistic about these facts and not to dream。 The objective quality is one side, the perceived quality is the other side。 Perceived quality is created through objective quality plus branding。 And branding remains a weakness of Chinese firms。 There are only two Chinese companies among the top 100 in the world, Huawei is No。 70 and Lenovo is No。 100。

  CNS: As a natural follow-up, how do you evaluate China’s technological progress over the past 4 decades after the Reform and Opening-up policy was steadfastly implemented? And why the technology and innovation is so critical in the context of the new economy?

  Simon: Of course as everybody knows the technological progress of China has by far surpassed the expectations of the past。 Nobody would have thought only ten years ago that China could reach the current status within such a short time。 In Germany we talked of the “economic miracle” in the 1950s。 The Chinese “economic miracle” is at least as impressive, if not more impressive, than its German predecessor。 But again I call for realism。 The pride of the enormous progress must not seduce China to become overly self-confident and complacent。 In many areas the United States is still the technology leader and will remain in that position for many years to come。 The recent ZTE case is a telling example。 Airbus is a strong European company。 But according to its CEO 90% of the electronics in the Airbus planes are from the US。

  CNS: Being widely witnessed, the Sino-US trade tensions have demonstrated substantial negatives impacts on the world trade and economy as a whole, and the resolution is not yet around the corner。 What is your view on this matter, and what should the German business community act if the conflicts between the two world biggest economies are escalating? 

  Simon: I hope that a viable solution can be found until the end of March。 This is a real danger for China, for the US, and for Germany。 Trump is incalculable。 The book by his advisor Navarro is very strongly anti-China。 But China should also change its strategy。 As long as people think that they can steal technology the danger of a serious trade war will prevail。 And if China and the US insist that they demonstrate their power a good outcome is endangered。 Again realism is indicated。 I hope that everybody involved understands the mutual interdependence and does not believe that anybody can win a trade war。 There are no winners in a trade war as we know from the 1930s。 In Germany we are very concerned。 We depend more strongly on peaceful trade than both China and USA。 Almost one half of our GDP comes from our exports。 And many German companies which manufacture in China export their products from there to the US。

  CNS: On December 19, the Bundestag revised the foreign investment regulation, which brought down the shareholding threshold from 25% to 10% for the regulatory review。 Although it may not directly target Chinese M&A activities in Germany, the effects could be born hugely by Chinese companies。 What do your think is the real purpose of the new regulation, and how to further tackle the dilemma between the national security and economic co-operation, in particular to Chinese partners?

  Simon: Personally I don’t think that the new regulation makes sense。 But it reflects the mood of the politicians, the industry and probably the majority of Germans。 In my opinion the German government should focus on creating a level playing field for German and foreign companies in China rather than impeding foreign and Chinese investments in Germany。 I do not expect that the new rules will have much impact。 There are some critical areas like infrastructure or defense where such restrictions are understandable and make sense, but for 90% of the economy they are nonsense。 But I have also to criticize the Chinese。 We have seen 162 acquisitions of German companies by Chinese investors in the last three years, in the opposite direction we had 32。 This imbalance in the numbers as such is not a problem。 The problem is rather that some of the Chinese takeovers were seen as rather aggressive and as coordinated within the “Made in China 2025”- initiative。 I think that the aggressive communication of that campaign has done damage to Chinese investments abroad。 Yes, China has been very successful。 But I would recommend the country to boast less about this success and the ensuing strength。 Chinese acquirers have often payed very high prices。 While this may be advantageous for the seller, it is not perceived well by politics and the public。 Why? Because overly high prices create the suspicion that these are political rather than pure business acquisitions。

  CNS: From a goods-oriented export country to a capital-related and technology-focused outbound investment country, China’s investment footprints will broadly reach out。 Germany has been one of the most significant host countries for China’s money due to its manufacturing prowess and the complementarity between the two, how do you view the role of the Chinese investments in Germany, from the economic and ESG points of views? With regards to the newly-enacted regulation, is there any tremendous impacts on the Sino-Germany co-operations? And what might be the effects on Germany’s economy?

  Simon: As I said I do not expect a strong impact。 Germany actually needs more Chinese investments。 Currently there is only one Chinese greenfield factory operating in Germany。 And actually the states and cities are vying for Chinese investments – opposite to the restrictions on the federal level。 China and Germany are ideal partners。 They have to find a way to cooperate。 That has worked very well in the past。 Both sides do not gain if they are too assertive。  

  CNS: China is Germany‘s largest trading partner, there is one school of thought that the German business community must wean from the over-dependence on China。 In fact, the dependence the other way around is much more expressed, being China learning and practicing Germany’s technological expertise and managerial skill。 Do you think this two-way trade and economic exchanges are for the benefits of both, even the rest of the world? If the Chinese companies have done something improperly in M&A transactions, what are your suggestions to address those concerns?

  Simon: I would not talk of a general overdependence of each country。 This is one of the big advantages of globalization, it is a risk diversifier。 If we do more and bigger trade with many countries it means that each country depends less on a single market。 I would also not say, that the dependence is asymmetric。 Germany depends very strongly on China as a target market。 More so than China depends on Germany。 On the other hand, China depends strongly on German investments and manufacturing competencies。 There are about 8500 German companies in China。 They run more than 2000 factories。 In Taicang alonge there are more than 300 German companies。 It would certainly not be good for China if this presence is impeded。 I don’t have the impression that we can generally accuse Chinese acquirers of German companies for doing something improperly。 For the vast majority the opposite is true。 There are some cases of misconduct, but I hold that their percentage is lower than for American acquirers of German companies。 Again, we experience a communication problem。 The Chinese should communicate more openly on their plans。 The press tends to pick up negative cases and blows them up, but it does not report if something runs smoothly。

  CNS: Globalization might be in retreat to certain extent, however the exchanges of goods, capital, people and information will definitely continue。 How could Germany and China jointly meet the short-term challenges of trade protectionism and geopolitical tussle, and embark on the long-term journey of a better future for human being?

  Simon: We don’t need less, we need more globalization。 India or Africa have no chance to catch up if they cannot export more to and buy more from advanced countries。 China and Germany can become role models for free trade。 They are leaders in global trade and thus can exert enormous influence by creating free trade flows between Europe, China and other regions。 This should induce the US to eventually follow。  

  CNS: The SMEs are supposed to be the backbone of any economies。 In this respect, Germany has been very successful in driving the economy especially from the mittelstand sector, within which the huge amounts of “hidden champions” have emerged。 You are one of the most capable academics, if not the one of analyzing and advising us on the development of this unique sector, so what is the essence of German’s model in promoting overall economy from the bottom-up? What are the tech factors being embedded in the whole process?

  Simon: It is not the government that has created the strong mid-sized sector and the numerous Hidden Champions in Germany, rather the opposite is true。 By providing a stable political environment and leaving them alone the mittelstand could flourish。 And there is no single factor which explains the mittelstand’s and the Hidden Champions’ continuing success。 Important factors are the entrepreneurial ambition to become the best in the world, focus on a narrow market, and globalization。 The Hidden Champions are also very innovative, which is not a pure matter of technology but the integration of customer needs and technology。 There is one are, though, where the government plays a decisive role, vocational training, a pillar of German competitiveness。 The companies provide the practical training of apprentices and the government runs the vocational schools (Berufsschulen)。 The technical universities also play a key role in cooperating very closely with the companies。

  CNS: Recently, China once again demonstrates the high commitments to the opening-up policy, and further optimizes the negative list and ownership percentage for foreign investment。 How do you evaluate China‘s determination and actions towards a more open economy and what opportunities will this bring to German companies?

  Simon: I explicitly acknowledge the opening and the removal of restrictions。 This is the right way to go。 But to be very candid, the belief that this is really practiced consistently is not there。 And certain incidences really damage the belief in the seriousness of the opening。 China must become more rigorous in taking care that intellectual property rights are respected and that corruption is removed。

  CNS: In talking about China’s overseas investments, the Belt and Road region is an indispensable construct, and China is open to any ideas regarding the co-operations in the context of the B&R Initiative。 As a prominent scholar, what is your take on this new policy development?

  Simon: The Belt and Road initiative makes a lot of sense。 But China should not forget that it is dealing with many states which are much smaller and weaker and thus may easily feel dominated by a very powerful China。 I think that this initiative should be handled with more sensitivity。 It is never a pure matter of what you do, but how you do it and especially how you communicate it。

  CNS: The technology transfer and the business reciprocity are the hot and inevitable topics when the cross-border investments are discussed。 What is your advice in terms of the so-called forced tech transfer and how can we build up a more reciprocal relationship between Germany and China, especially in the area of financial and industrial investments?

  Simon: Forced tech transfer was probably necessary in an earlier stage of development。 Today China is in a position of strength, where any forced or inappropriate transfer of technology should be abandoned。 I think both countries should also stop to think of German or Chinese companies。 Companies as such have no nationality。 A German company which runs a good factory in China is a blessing for China。 And a Chinese company which runs a good factory in Germany is a blessing for Germany。 I often say that German companies have to become Chinese, and in the same vein Chinese companies have to become German。 The consulting company I founded, Simon-Kucher & Partners, has employees from 68 countries who work in 38 offices all over the world。 Our origin is in Germany, but we are not a German company。 In Beijing and Shanghai we are a Chinese company, all our employees there are Chinese。 I personally think that we have transcended the state of nationalism in our company。 But the politicians and most people are still thinking in national, if not nationalistic terms。 The result is what we see today in the trade tensions and the danger that global value chains are destroyed。

  CNS: What is your opinion on a policy paper from the BDI, Germany’s main business lobby, suggesting the government to protect Germany’s open model from China’s “state-dominated economy”?

  Simon: The policy paper “Partners and systemic competitors - How do we deal with China‘s state-controlled economy” by the Federation of German Industries (BDI) is comprehensive and addresses many important aspects of Chinese-German cooperation。 The paper is critical of, but not unfriendly to China。 I think that both sides are aware that they depend on each other and have to find compromises。 At the same time, the paper leaves no doubt that the two political systems in China and Germany are fundamentally different。 This is not of great importance at the pure business level, but where the state or the party on the Chinese side intervenes, it becomes critical。 So far, these differences have been swept under the carpet。 Due to the success of Chinese companies and, in particular, the numerous takeovers, awareness of the difference has risen sharply in Germany and other parts of the world。 One does not always get the impression that this change is fully understood by the Chinese side。 In the West, there are doubts as to whether the Chinese state or party is systematically keeping out of business issues。 In my opinion, this is extremely important if China wants to continue to be as successful as before in exports and foreign investments。 China must do everything it can to avoid further cases like Huawei。 Trust is one of the most important elements in international trade。 Of course, not everything is 100% separate in the West either。  Whether and how Western secret services obtain business data can only be guessed at。 But at least there are clear legal dividing lines that even apply to secret services。 But German companies and associations should also accept that they cannot change certain political conditions in China。 If one wants to do business with and in China, one has to accept the institutional framework there。 Nevertheless, there is a right to equal and fair treatment and every partner should insist on this right。

  CNS: We have noticed that the German government has recently launched the National Industrial Strategy 2030, which aims to maintain the leading position facing the tremendous competitions from the US and China。 Several industries have been identified to be ones representing Germany’s manufacturing excellence and the government is urged to be more supportive, in another sense, to be more protective。 So how do you view this directional change of the government to be more involved in the business activities? What are the impacts on the mittelstand sector, which is the backbone of Corporate Germany? Meantime, how can Germany and China achieve a win-win situation taking into account the variables of the government policies?

  Simon: The new initiative from the Minister of economic affairs meet with mixed reception in Germany。 It is mostly seen as a kind of industrial policy which is typical for France, but not for Germany。 The impact on the Mittelstand and the Hidden Champions will remain very limited。

  CNS: In the post-Merkel era partly symbolized by CDU’s new leadership of AKK, what do you think are the possible changes, and what are the major impacts on the Sino-Germany economic relationships?

  Simon: I am optimistic for Germany。 But we depend strongly on Europe, the US, and also on China。 In this context the Sino-German relation is one of the least pressing problems。 As I said in many of my talks, China and Germany fit very well together。 We have an industrial spirit, people are working hard, even culturally there are no conflicts。 Just as an example, there are about 300,000 Chinese living in Germany。 They don’t cause any trouble, unlike some other minorities。 I would like to see many more Chinese factories and companies in Germany。 And I hope that the access to the Chinese market will become freer and freer for German and foreign companies。 It will benefit all countries。

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