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October 29, 2016

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Home » Business » Biz Commentary

Germany must drop China phobia

BERLIN’S latest stalling of a Chinese firm’s attempt to buy a German lamp producer is yet another sign that China-phobia is still around.

Local business news magazine WirtschaftsWoche reported on Thursday that the German Economy Ministry has suspended a bid by Chinese companies to take over Osram’s general lighting lamps business. Berlin has initially rejected and later decided to review the acquisition, which would take months.

The alarming move came only days after Berlin, without explanation, reopened a review of the sale of the German semiconductor maker Aixtron to a Chinese company for “security concerns,” in a sudden annulment of the clearance certificate it issued last month that confirmed the buyer’s credibility.

Germany’s repeated scrutiny of deals with Chinese investors does not bode well for potential buyers from around the world.

If such relentless government interference continues, German taxpayers will bear the brunt of their government’s unpredictability and untrustworthiness in global trade policies. The country’s protectionist moves could also rid its troubled firms of the chances for revival thanks to overseas capital.

For years, Germany has enjoyed the reputation of being one of the world’s leading exporters and main beneficiaries of free trade. It is more than disheartening to see the country becoming increasingly inclined to set barriers for Chinese enterprises, leaving investors globally to question Berlin’s sincerity in securing an open and transparent investment climate.

Recent years have also seen a deteriorating investment climate in Germany.

Data released recently by the German central bank showed for the past seven years, German non-financial businesses would rather sit and see their savings accumulate to a massive US$50.04 billion than being invested in the country.

Many in Germany worry that Chinese companies are just interested in “stealing” technologies and jobs through their takeovers. In fact, there are multiple successful examples that have proved these concerns are as wrong as they are unnecessary.

Instead of seeking short-term gains, Chinese firms now prefer localizing their strategies and promoting acquired brands in China for win-win results.

After intervening in several Chinese bids in under a week, it is time for Berlin to let go of its delusional “China threat” paranoia.


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