China and Germany have enjoyed an economic symbiosis for the past decade: China being in need of technology and Germany in need of markets. As a result, German exports to China have grown exponentially and, according to the German Federal Statistical Office, accounted for €74.5 billion in 2014 – nearly half of the European Union’s total exports to China.
China is now the second-largest market for German exports outside the EU and is expected soon to overtake the US as the largest. The figures for individual companies are even more extraordinary: according to Arndt Ellinghorst, a motor industry analyst, 64 per cent of Volkswagen’s net profits comes from China.
This economic symbiosis has been the basis for an increasingly close political relationship – in particular, between Chancellor Angela Merkel and the former premier Wen Jiabao, who set up an annual joint cabinet meeting.