Germans have watched with unease as Chinese enterprises have swallowed up arecord number of homegrown tech companies this year, sparking fears of German knowhow and intellectual property being sold off to the highest bidder.The wave of acquisitions has also stoked grumbles over China's easy access to the country's open markets, often through state-backed companies, while foreign investors there face tight restrictions.
"Germans seem to be growing more and more sceptical about China, and consequently more willing to pursue a tougher approach to Beijing," said analyst Hans Kundnani from the German Marshall Fund. In the clearest sign yet that Berlin could be squaring up for a battle, the German economy ministry this week said it was taking a closer look at two planned Chinese takeovers -- effectively stalling both deals.
The moves have not gone unnoticed in Beijing and Gabriel will likely face some prickly questions when he leads a 60-strong business delegation on a five-day trip to China and Hong Kong from Tuesday.
Germany's first punch came last Monday when the ministry said it had withdrawn its approval for Grand Chip Investment's 670-million-euro ($730-million) purchase of chip equipment maker Aixtron, citing security concerns. German daily Handelsblatt said the surprise reversal came after US intelligence services warned that Aixtron products could be used for military purposes. The deal is now back under review, a process that could last three months.
Days later, the economy ministry said it was also reviewing the mooted sale of German firm Osram's general lighting unit to a Chinese buyer.
So far there has been little official reaction from Beijing. But a bylined commentary carried by the official Xinhua news agency was scathing, accusing Germany of "protectionist moves" that called into question "Berlin's sincerity in securing an open and transparent investment climate".
"It is time for Berlin to let go of its delusional "China threat" paranoia," it added.
Crucially there has been no word yet on whether Chancellor Angela Merkel --who has championed close economic ties with Beijing -- approves of the idea. But Gabriel is likely to get a sympathetic hearing from at least some European peers.The new British government recently delayed the controversial Hinkley Point nuclear project over concerns about China's involvement, before eventually giving it the go-ahead.
In Brussels, an in-depth EU antitrust probe is holding up state-owned ChemChina's proposed mammoth takeover of Swiss seed maker Syngenta.
Rather, the latest manoeuvres should be seen as part of a growing debate about how "to get a level playing field" with China, Kundnani told AFP. Gabriel himself told reporters this week foreign investment with China could not be "a one-way street".
"We would like reciprocity," he said.
Foreign investors have long complained of the obstacles to doing business in China, such as the requirement to team up with local partners, while some sectors are completely off-limits. Friedolin Strack of the BDI federation of German industries said that despite the frustrations, German firms had benefited enormously from doing deals with China -- leaving Gabriel to tread a fine line during his visit.
"There are a lot of restrictions in Chinese markets," Strack told AFP. "Andwe should increase the political pressure and the pressure from businesses on China to remove these barriers.
"But if we say we are open only to those countries who are open with us, that would harm German companies."
Falko Droßmann has taken a bold step against notorious landlords in Hamburg. The port city has been facing unprecedented accommodation challenges over the years. Demand far exceeding supply. The prices have become unbearable to the most vulnerable in the city.
Though the SPD government led by Olaf Scholz has been doing a lot to address the situation by making it easier for estate developers to build more houses, a notable few are still refusing to rent their empty apartments thus creating artificial shortages and pushing prices up.
The district chief executive of Hamburg –Mitte, Falko Droßmann has decided to dispose a landlord and to have his six apartments renovated and forcibly rented. The cost of renovation will be billed to the owner.
According to the plans the apartments will be handed over back to the owner after they are rented out. In addition, the tenants would have to receive secured contracts.
“Hamburg can no longer tolerate the strategic empty apartment’s policies" says the energetic SPD politician. Hopefully other politicians will have the guts to initiate similar actions in their towns and cities, this is the first case so far in Hamburg.
A good leader always first and foremost think about the interest of his people.
Horst Wenzel, dubbed ‘Germany’s number one love expert’, has been volunteering his services to teach new migrants how to flirt and approach women.
The 27-year-old, who makes his living teaching wealthy but shy German men, has recently decided to offer his advice to young Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Dortmund, most of them from Middle Eastern countries, such as Iraq and Syria.
“Some German women are a bit racist towards us,” said this Syrian refugee. “They don’t know how refugees think or how they are living. Some people are getting the wrong idea.”
“Don’t tell them you love them at least for the first three months of your relationship, or they’ll run away,” he explained patiently. “German women don’t like clinginess.”
“Finding a relationship is the best way to integrate, and that’s why I’m giving these classes,” Wenzel said.
Wenzel usually charges 1,400 euros for a private one-day class, or 4,000 euros for a group. According to him, flirting is a large part of the integration process and hopes that the migrants will “fall in love with Germany”.
While a part of the population is said to be against this project as it is conducted in a country where the migrant influx is already having deep political and social consequences, some German women seem receptive to the idea.
“Human touch, honesty, trust, that’s what matters,” insisted this local resident. “then I don’t care whether he is from Syria or not.”
According to reports, last year alone, around 890,000 people applied for asylum, with hundreds of thousands more applying this year.
The girl, who has been named only as Josephine under German privacy laws, made headlines last year when she ran away with her uncle. She was 14 at the time.
When the couple were discovered in the south of France, Josephine told police she had run away voluntarily and was in love with the older man, who was her uncle by marriage. In common with several other European countries, the age of sexual consent in Germany is 14.
But the teenager successfully challenged the order. The court ruled that as she is over 14 her own wishes have to be taken into account.
In their ruling, the judges said that Josephine risked “serious damage in her social-emotional and mental development” if she was prevented from further contact with the uncle. The judges emphasised that the decision in no way amounted to an endorsement or approval of the relationship.
“The court does not offer any opinion on the non-judicial question of whether a 47-year-old married man should return the love of a 14-year-old fired by adolescent affection and enthusiasm,” they wrote. “The relationship may be socially undesirable and unacceptable, but it is not covered by criminal law, and not categorically forbidden.”
The court case was the culmination of months of strife between the girl and her parents. When they forbade her from seeing her uncle on her return from France, she left home, stopped attending school and tried to stay in a government shelter. Her parents later had her admitted to a psychiatric hospital for five months. She refused to tell her parents the whereabouts of her uncle. The 47-year-old has children of his own, and has also been a foster parent.
The age of consent varies in different European countries. While it is 16 in the UK, Spain and the Benelux countries, other countries where it is only 14 include Italy, Portugal and Austria. In France it is 15, while in Ireland it is 17. There are provisions in German law to protect abuse of a minor who is over the age of consent by a much older partner, but only where the child concerned files a complaint with police.
“Basically, the law assumes that a 15-year-old is mature enough to decide about his or her sex life,” Robert Ufer, a criminal lawyer, told Spiegel magazine.
Source: The Spiegel
The 22-year-old police officer was discovered dead on Tuesday afternoon after a six-day search, not far from the train station where she was last seen. The search for Maxime L. has come to an end after the Lübeck Institute for Forensic Medicine identified the corpse as that of the young police officer on Wednesday, Bild reports.
The cause of death was a shot to the head from her service weapon, a spokesperson for the Lübeck prosecutor's office confirmed to Bild.
Investigators are treating the case as a suspected suicide. "As of yet there is nothing to argue against suicide. We have no indications of any other party's involvement," the spokesperson said.
Maxime L. did not turn up for work last Wednesday and was reported missing on Thursday. She was last spotted on CCTV on a regional train at Aumühle train station on the same day. Hundreds of police officers scoured the Sachsenwald woods near the train station over the weekend using a helicopter and sniffer dogs.
On Tuesday a woman's corpse was discovered with a service weapon lying by its side. It was identified the following day as Maxime L.
The prosecutor's office also said that there were no signs of any depressive illness. A friend of Maxime since childhood told Bild that she was "a fun-loving person. Sometimes a little volatile, but when she had problems, she confided in friends."
By The Local