作者:成朝庭(德中论坛研究所创始人)
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2020.10.20


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德国经济在遭受新冠疫情沉重打击之后正在迅速回升,许多领域已经出现V型反弹态势,这很大程度上是得益于中国经济强劲的复苏势头。以汽车产业为例,大众40%、宝马24%和奔驰26%的汽车都卖给了中国顾客。在第二季度,梅赛德斯-奔驰品牌在全球范围内销量下跌20%,但在中国却不降反升,增加了22%。根据德国联邦统计局的数据,从2020年4月至6月,德国对中国的出口总额达230亿欧元,而同期对美国的出口额只有200亿美元。此前美国一直是德国最大的出口市场,但是由于美国经济遭受疫情重创,这个位置正被中国夺走。

 

那么,德国经济是否真的依赖中国市场?中国是否由此获得了对德国的巨大影响力?德国经济界和政界如何看待这个形势?

 

一方面,中国市场对德国经济确实很重要,尤其是对德国国民经济的支柱产业——汽车工业,可以说是举足轻重。但是另一方面,我们也必须看到,欧盟市场才是德国的根本,德国与欧盟国家的贸易规模和依存度远远超过中国市场。2018年,德国出口总额的59%是欧盟国家贡献的,其中法国占8%,荷兰占7%。非欧盟国家中,美国贡献了9%,中国贡献了7%。中国的贡献与荷兰相当,但荷兰只有1700万人口,还没有中国深圳一个城市人口多,德国与其欧盟邻国之间紧密的经济联系由此可见一斑。与出口相比,欧盟成员国在德国进口总额中的占比更高达66%,其中荷兰占14%、法国6%、比利时6%;在非欧盟国家中,中国占7%,美国占4%。正是因为欧盟市场对德国的极端重要性,在新冠疫情爆发后,德国才一反常态,与法国一起推动欧盟在2020年7月21日通过了欧盟历史上最大的财政和经济复苏计划。该计划共计1.8万亿欧元,其中10740亿欧元用于未来七年的财政预算,7500亿欧元作为疫情后的重建基金。在这笔基金中,3900亿欧元为无需偿还的拨款,另外的3600亿欧元作为救助贷款使用。作为欧盟最大经济体,德国当然是这笔巨款的主要出资国之一。对于一直奉行保守稳健财政政策的德国来说,这次慷慨解囊,堪称史无前例。此前在2010年的欧债危机中,德国也大力援助了希腊,但条件相当苛刻,无偿援助更是不可想像的事。由此可见,这次德国为了稳住对自身经济至关重要的欧盟内部市场,可以说是下了血本。

 

鉴于当前国际地缘政治形势日趋紧张,德国与中国经贸联系越是密切,对中国市场越是依赖,德国各界反而就越是担忧。经济界越来越担心产业升级换代的中国日益成为其竞争对手,政界则为如何在日趋激烈的美中对抗中选边站队而忧心忡忡。倘若是在美国仍然奉行对华接触政策(Engagement)的时代,德国对中国市场的依赖并不是问题,但世易时移,美中对抗正在不断加剧。德国最重要的国际问题和安全事务研究机构——德国科学与政治基金会(SWP)前任总监Volker Perthes对此指出,美中对抗已经成为当今国际关系的指导范式,一切重大国际问题都必须在该范式下来看待。而他的继任者,SWP新任总监Stefan Mair对中德关系则更不乐观。他此前在德国工业联合会(BDI)任职,于2019年1月首次提出了中国是德国的“体制对手”(systemic rivalry)这一概念,随后在2019年3月被欧盟委员会采用。Stefan Mair现在担任SWP这一德国政府重要智库负责人,他对德国决策者的影响力将大大增加。

 

因此,在严峻的国际形势下,与中国密切的经济联系反而日益成为柏林决策者们的一个压力。如何才能减轻对中国市场的依赖,促成供应链和地缘政治关系的多样化,并加强与价值观相同的伙伴国家(like-minded partners)的合作,已经提上德国政府日程。备受关注的德国版印太战略就是在这个大背景下应运而生的。此外,自新冠疫情爆发以来,德国与中国的政治关系日趋紧张。在新疆和香港问题上,德国政府的对华立场更加强硬,甚至不惜触怒中国,在2020年10月6日的联合国大会上代表39国指责中国的人权问题。这一切都预示着德国的对华政策风向正在转变,只不过德国一国分量不够,所以他们正在努力促成欧盟层面采取统一的对华战略。多年来,德国的对华政策一直在价值观和经贸利益之间寻求平衡。可以肯定的是,由于国际形势的重大变化,德国的对华政策将更趋强硬,价值观将扮演更加重要的角色。

Is German economy dependent on Chinese market?

The German economy is recovering quickly after being hit hard by the corona pandemic, and a V-shaped rebound has been seen in many sectors, largely thanks to China’s strong economic recovery. In the automotive industry, for example, 40 percent of Volkswage’s, 24 percent of BMW’s and 26 percent of Mercedes-Benz’s cars were sold to Chinese customers. In the second quarter of 2020, sales of the Mercedes-Benz brand fell 20 percent globally, but rose in China by 22 percent. According to the German Federal Statistical Office, German exports to China totaled 23 billion euros from April to June 2020, compared to just $20 billion to the United States during the same period. The U.S. had previously been Germany’s largest export market, but that position is being replaced by China, as the U.S. economy has been hit hard by the pandemic.

So, is the German economy really dependent on the Chinese market? Did China thus gain significant influence over Germany? How do German economic and political elites view this situation?

On the one hand, the Chinese market is indeed important for the German economy, especially for the automotive industry, which is one of the pillars of Germany’s national economy. However, on the other hand, we must also realize that the EU market is still most important for German economy, the scale and interdependence of Germany’s trade with EU countries far exceeds those of the Chinese market. In 2018, intra-EU trade accounts for 59% of Germany’s exports (France 8% and the Netherlands 7%), while outside the EU 9% go to the United States and 7% to China. China’s contribution is comparable to that of the Netherlands, but with a population of only 17 million, the Netherlands does not have as many people as a single city in Shenzhen, China. Thus, the close economic ties between Germany and its EU neighbors are evident.

Compared to exports, the share of EU member states in Germany’s total imports is even higher, at 66%, with the Netherlands accounting for 14%, France 6% and Belgium 6%; among non-EU countries, China accounts for 7% and the U.S. 4%. Just because of the extreme importance of the EU market, after the outbreak of corona pandemic, Germany has taken a completely different position from its past fiscal policies, and joined France in pushing for the adoption of the largest fiscal and economic recovery plan in the EU’s history, which was approved on July 21, 2020. The plan totals €1.8 trillion, of which €1074 billion is allocated to the budget over the next seven years and €750 billion as a fund for post-pandemic recovery. Of this fund, €390 billion is non-reimbursable assistance and another €360 billion is used as a bailout loan. As the EU’s largest economy, Germany is of course one of the main contributors to this huge sum. For Germany has been pursuing a conservative and prudent fiscal policy, this generous donation is indeed unprecedented. In the 2010 European debt crisis, Germany also vigorously assisted Greece, but the conditions were quite harsh, free aid is unthinkable. It can be seen that Germany has made a great deal of effort to stabilize the EU internal market, which is vital to its own economy.

Given that the current international geopolitical situation is becoming increasingly tense, the closer the economic and trade ties between Germany and China and the greater the dependence on the Chinese market, the more worried Germany is. The economic elites are increasingly worried that China is becoming a competitor, while the political elites are worried about how to take sides in the increasing sino-american confrontation. Germany’s dependence on the Chinese market would not have been a problem in the days when the United States still pursued its engagement policy toward China. Volker Perthes, the former director of the Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP), Germany’s most important research institute for international issues and security affairs, pointed out that the U.S.-China confrontation has become the guiding paradigm in international relations today and that all major international issues must be seen within this paradigm. His successor, Stefan Mair, is even less optimistic about Sino-German relations. He previously worked for the Confederation of German Industry (BDI), and first proposed the concept of China as a “systemic rival” to Germany in January 2019, which was subsequently adopted by the European Commission in March 2019. As the head of an important German government think tank, he will have significant influence on German policymakers.

Therefore, close economic and trade ties with China are increasingly a source of pressure for Berlin’s policymakers in a challenging international context. How to reduce dependence on the Chinese market, diversify supply chains and geopolitical ties, and strengthen cooperation with like-minded partners is now on the agenda of German government. It is against this background that the much-anticipated German version of the Indo-Pacific strategy has emerged. In addition, political tensions between Germany and China have increased since the outbreak of the corona pandemic. On the Xinjiang and Hong Kong issues, the German government has taken a tougher stance against China, even going so far as to offend China by representing 39 countries in the UN General Assembly and accusing China of human rights issues on October 6, 2020. All of this signals a shift in the direction of German policy toward China. Germany is now trying to promote a unified strategy toward China at the EU level, because it has realized Germany alone is not powerful enough to confront China. For many years, German policy towards China has been a balance between ideological values and economic and trade interests. It is certain that, due to major changes in the international situation, German policy toward China will become more assertive and that values will play an even more important role.