Over the past few days, leading business representatives and business associations have been venting their resentment to the media about the west's Tibet campaign. With rising profits, the significance of German business with China has been growing steadily. Last year alone, exports to the People's Republic grew by 9.4% to a total of 54 Billion Euros. A rejection by Chinese consumers would signify as big a loss as that incurred from a loss of contracts with the Chinese government. Investment difficulties in China would also damage German enterprises. "Limitations in business relations would (...) sensitively affect the German economy in an important growth market" explained the chairman of the Asian-Pacific Committee of German Business (APA) Juergen Hambrecht. Hambrecht is the CEO of the BASF Chemical Corporation, which is greatly profiting from the low wages and the advantageous Chinese framework for businesses. BASF has invested billions in China, which now ranks as its third largest market after Germany and the USA.
Loss of Credibility
German policy advisors are also warning. The Institute of Asian Studies at the German Institute of Global and Area Studies in Hamburg admonishes in a realistic appraisal of the situation that "China will not submit to brusque demands from other governments". One should be "wary of applying different standards for comparable situations to different countries" writes the think-tank, directly insinuating the Tibet campaign. By applying double standards "every position, even unambiguous, loses its credibility"  and destroys the basis for any subsequent negotiations. This is all the more serious, because the authors discern an explicit shift in the international balance of power - political and economic leverage is having less effect than previously on China. According to the IAS, "in questions concerning North Korea, the Iranian atomic program or protection of the global climate, nothing can be done without China." "Punitive economic sanctions are more damaging to western national economies than to the Chinese."
Beijing-based correspondents confirm the basis for apprehension expressed by business and policy advisors. "Many Chinese, inside and outside of the People's Republic, feel internationally humiliated" writes a leading German daily about reactions to the western campaign. "Even those Chinese citizens, who otherwise express criticisms of the government, are united in rebuking western criticism." Memories of operations by the 19th and 20th century colonial powers is very much alive in China today - they were successful in splitting China and pitting one region of the country against another with bloody consequences for the entire country. The current western humiliations are a reminder of the aggressions of that period, they weaken domestic pro-western forces and are paving the way for boycotting pro-Chinese forces. A China-based TV correspondent reported: "the majority of the population is confronting the rest of the world, above all the western media, with a defiant anger.
According to the correspondent, the "weeks of the western media barrage" is not only considered "insulting" in China, "the German media," whose newscasts are being carefully followed by a growing Chinese community in Germany, is "now seen as particularly manipulative." "That should be taken seriously" says the journalist "because up to now, the foreign media has had a relatively high credibility in China. That has been completely turned around."
There is not only criticism of the evaluative character of reporting, even the factual allegations often are misleading or even false. Dr. Ingo Nentwig, Sinologist, ethnologist and an expert on Chinese nationality policy, sees the often used term "cultural genocide" in reference to the developments in Tibet as "totally inappropriate," or that Beijing seeks to "Sinize" Tibet "false." In his talk with german-foreign-policy.com, Nentwiig sets the record straight on common preconceptions of China and its nationality policy, sharply criticizing news reporting in Germany. "The proportionality in newscasts has disappeared." (The complete text of the interview: click here.)
In defiance of all warnings and in spite of criticism from circles with interests in the area, Berlin is escalating the Tibet campaign. German politicians' most recent declarations call for a TV boycott of important Olympic ceremonies. Even sports associations and the German Protestant Church have begun a mass anti-Chinese mobilization for the games. An unspecified sports initiative is preparing armbands for participants to wear in the Olympics as a protest against their hosts. For the same purpose, the Protestant Church is distributing armbands to German Olympic tourists. The provocations against China are systematically promoting nationalist tensions and are beginning to take on the character of a mass movement.