Media Coverage "Hamburg Summit" 2018

Monday, November 26, 2018

9.00: Welcome addresses and opening speeches

"Germany is China’s most important partner in Europe"

Tobias Bergmann, President of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, is not one to mince words. In his opening speech at the 8th "Hamburg Summit: China meets Europe", he clearly expressed that this year’s summit is "taking place in times of great upheaval which also affect the EU-China relations." He added: "It’s time for China and Europe to join forces to deal with the United States’ current trade policy." Another focus of this bilateral cooperation, as Bergmann put forward, will have to be digitalization. "This will prepare China and Europe for the future."

Hamburg’s First Mayor, Dr Peter Tschentscher, applied these aspects to the city of Hamburg "Economic success, prosperity and quality of life in Hamburg have always depended on free trade." He highlighted that China and Germany are strong partners in promoting climate protection standards in big cities.

Yizhong Li, Chairman of the China Federation of Industrial Economics (CFIE), the Chinese counterpart of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, stressed profound improvements in China’s economic figures, as well as underlining the vital importance of a stable development of bilateral trade between China and the EU. "China and the EU should encourage mutual investment and upgrade financial cooperation," he said.

Germany’s former chancellor, Gerhard Schroeder, who serves for the second time as Honorary Chairman of the Hamburg Summit 2018, picked up where Bergmann left off in his opening speech. While Schroeder put forward that Germany is China’s most important partner in Europe and figures are indeed promising, with more than 900 Chinese companies operating in Germany and a bilateral trade volume of over EUR 180bn in 2017, challenges are also immense. Schroeder mentioned the election of US-President Trump and his "America First" policy, Brexit, political upheaval in North Africa as well as attacks on international trade and the underlying system.

The answers he provided concern China as well as Europe: dialogue in times of European and Chinese responsibility as well as a strengthening of multilateralism. Schroeder addressed the audience with words of encouragement, stressing that both countries should "solve old conflicts and stand united against threats" and added that he is convinced that collaboration rather than confrontation should characterise relations, even if opinions may differ.

"The new Silk Road should terminate in Hamburg"

After the different opening statements, one of the most important issues of this year’s Hamburg summit came into focus for all participants. Victor Chu, Chairman and CEO, First Eastern Investment Group, from Hong Kong and Angela Titzrath, CEO of HHLA, talked about their individual perspectives on the new Silk Road. Conference Chairman Prof. Dr. Hans-Jörg Schmidt-Trenz pointed out that both keynote speakers have at least one thing in common: "Both stand for the close cooperation between China and Europe."
And this message was emphasised in the following speeches. Chu had one key message for the conference: "The new Silk Road is more than building infrastructure in different regions", it even has philosophical implications. Because the Belt and Road Initiative will lead to more mobility and connectivity between different regions and that will promote cultural exchange between countries. Chu: "Partnership and collaboration will bring better understanding and peace. And this is our most important legacy for the next generation."

Titzrath quoted former French emperor Napoleon, who had said that China was a sleeping lion: "Let China sleep; when she wakes she will shake the world." And China did wake up. "The lion is in the process of shaking the world", Titzrath said. She explained the importance of China and Chinese companies for Hamburg. When the first container ship from China came to Hamburg 30 years ago, it carried 1,200 TEU, this year a COSCO-ship had more than 20,000 on board. "Every week, 235 trains travel between Hamburg and China", HHLA’sCEO said. And she talked about her expectations for the future: "The new Silk Road should terminate in Hamburg." This statement was followed by long bursts of applause from the audience.

China-Europe Friendship Award Ceremony

Before the first break of the day, Gerhard Schroeder, former Chancellor of Germany and Honorary Chairman of the "Hamburg Summit: China meets Europe", was the presenter of the China-Europe Friendship Award, with which he was awarded himself at the Hamburg Summit two years ago. He praised this year's awardee Dr Song Heiliang, President of the China Communications Construction Company (CCCC), for his "outstanding contribution to the relations between China and Europe, and especially between China and Hamburg". Furthermore, Schroeder complimented Song on his long partnership with the Hamburg Summit, where he already took part in multiple panels in 2014 and 2016.

Song thanked Schroeder and especially the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce for the award. He stressed that the award belongs to all the staff at CCCC.

"China and Germany are destined to take the lead"

China’s economic landscape is changing – the People’s Republic has committed itself to a new growth model that is more efficient, innovation-driven, consumption-led and sustainable. The panel, hosted by China expert Dr Margot Schueller, analysed the re-direction of the Chinese growth model including its consequences for Europe in terms of trade.

Victor Chu, Chairman and CEO of the First Eastern Investment Group, quoted the President of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in his opening statement: "China’s reform is clean, lean and green." Chu managed to link this triangle to a positive stance on the US-Chinese tensions. "One may say in ten years ‘Thank you Mr President!’ Because of you, we see changes in China, we see lower tariffs and we see a silver lining of necessary reforms."

This said, he also addressed the imminent task of managing the US-Chinese relations carefully and coming to a mainstream consensus on data protection. "Otherwise IoT is a recipe for disaster!" However, if Germany and China address this now, both countries are destined to take the lead.

Shift to high-quality, sustainable and green growth

Yiqun Ling, Senior VP Sinopec Group, stressed that these challenges require an in-depth analysis by the government. The switch from accelerating growth to a more sustainable growth model has to be based on three pillars: The first is a change in mentality that includes stopping to pursue high speed growth at all costs and shift to high-quality, sustainable and green growth. The second is to address and contain problems on the supply-side and the third is to strengthen innovation.

Nathalie Errard, Senior VP of the Airbus Group, confirms the country’s greener path from abroad. "Greener aircrafts are the future," she said. Given that her enterprise is responsible for a market share of 50 percent in China, she stressed that the significant threat of protectionism as well as tensions between their US-American and Chinese clients have to be brought under control.

No country will make it on their own

Kurt Sievers, President, NXP Semiconductors N.V., emphasized the significance of digitalisation for transformation. "This is bigger than the introduction of the personal computer and the smartphone revolution." He concluded that it is smart to not try and teach China what to do but to learn from China. The benefit would be a bilateral win-win situation with global success.

Pui Shan Lee, Managing Director, Kekst CNC, added that numerous opportunities in the technological sector, including local internet giants, are primed for collaboration with German companies. Kurt Sievers couldn’t agree more. To facilitate collaboration, he further emphasized the importance of talent pools and the promotion of exchange among young engineers. "Global relationships are crucial - no country will make it on their own."

"USA and China must keep on talking"

The growing tensions with the USA regarding trade relations give rise to concerns about the effects this might have on the world economy. This panel tried to find solutions for these troubles.

President Donald Trump puts America first and the United Kingdom (UK) will leave the European Union (EU) – a lot of uncertainty is spreading throughout the world. And at the same time, China becomes a superpower, as host Prof Dr Henning Vöpel, Director and CEO of the Hamburg Institute of International Economics (HWWI), put it at the beginning of this panel. How do the panellists perceive the situation of the international trading system?

Trade will increase further

Yu Zenggang, Executive Vice President of China COSCO Shipping Corporation Ltd., was quite optimistic despite the growing tensions between the USA and China. He mentioned that trade between China and America continued to grow. "In the short run, there could be problems, but in the long run, trade will increase further," Yu said.

Dr Angela Stanzel, Senior Policy Fellow and editor of China Analysis, European Council on Foreign Relations, was not as optimistic as Yu. Her mood regarding the imminent trade war was quite dark. She sees a trend from multilateralism to unilateralism. Established relations could come to an end and "ad-hoc alliances will form instead" Stanzel said.

Denis Redonnet, Director 'WTO, Legal Affairs and Trade in Goods', Directorate General for Trade in the European Commission, sees one way out of the trade dispute: "We have to find rule-based solutions, not power-based ones."

Peter Helis, Vice Chairman of the South China Board at the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China (EUCCC), put a remarkable spin on the discussion. He sees Europe in agreement with the USA with regard to some critical issues in China, "but we don't agree on the measures" the USA sought. Helis demanded that the USA and China must keep on talking.

The importance of energy, well, green energy

How can European businesses contribute to solving China’s environmental challenges? The panel looked into opportunities and challenges on both sides in various areas.

"A green future and sustainable solutions have been already heavily discussed, so we have to find out what is new," said Dr Sabine Stricker-Kellerer, Member of the German-Chinese Dialogue Forum and host of the panel. And when asked about the most recent issues of his future business in China, Liu Guangying, Executive Vice President, State Grid Corporation of China, stressed the importance of energy. He listed solar power, wind power and the increasing cost of production.
Volatility is still one of the major challenges of European and Chinese companies. However, China has already developed a new generation of national grid. "We need to find a friendly balance between the old and the new system," Liu added.

Robert Schoellhammer, the European Representative of the Asian Development Bank, reports that Chinese companies have a common mantra: "Please give us innovation, please give us knowledge." However, the question remains: "How can we have the best European technology applied?" In his opinion, both Europe and China will have to move from fossil energies to cleaner solutions.

When asked about technical differences between Europe and China, Dr Michael Mainelli, Co-founder and Executive Chairman of the Z/Yen Group, listed social, economic, political and technical challenges. His economic example was pricing policy.

The importance of Big Data

"The interest in global energy is relative and part of the internet of things," answered Liu, when asked about the importance of Big Data. His company is working on solar power integration and a new conversion system. His example: Electric vehicles will be a global success story and a platform, with the driver being a user, a consumer and a producer of energy at the same time.

For Marion Finney, Executive Director, Customer Scrap Solutions, Aurubis AG, China is also a role model. According to her, China is very good in the fields of new technology, energy collection and finding new solutions. "We can learn from that," she said.

Fields of disagreement? Panel participants mentioned pricing mechanisms as an important aspect, but also political questions and conflicts of interest.

Europe is No 1 for China and vice versa in terms of trade and investment

As part of the "Belt and Road Initiative" (BRI), Beijing has implemented new investment and infrastructure projects in Central Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. But is BRI really a chance to bring the European and Chinese economic policies together? The panel was hosted by Prof Dr Eberhard Sandschneider of the Otto-Suhr-Institute of Political Science at the Freie Universität Berlin.

"The Belt and Road Initiative is a scheme that covers five areas of connectivity," explains Dr Song Hailing, President of the China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC). The five pillars are infrastructure, trade, policy and IT, the connection of capital flows and people. "Our cranes are the arms of trade in many countries," he adds.

However, as easy as this might sound, the project is anything but plain and simple, elaborated Prof Sandschneider. Many fear that the initiative is dominated by China. Song Hailing didn’t quite dismiss this fear but highlighted that the origin might be Chinese, yet the main focus is on collaboration.

Collaboration though is certainly not an easy task in this cross-border project that involves Central Asia, Europe, Africa and the Middle East. "The initiative has to make more of the Baltic states and Kaliningrad", claims Jens Maier from Hamburg’s Port Authority AöR.

BRI has to be based on IT, patience and deep knowledge

Andreas Huber, Global VP and Head of the China Liaison Office of SAP SE, is convinced that one of the main flaws so far is IT-knowledge. He believes that the "Belt and Road Initiative" cannot work without international collaboration in the field of IT.

Thomas P. Lamnidis, VP and Senior Partner at KLC Law Firm, passionately calls for the recognition of the project’s dimension: "BRI is a political issue which is much more than just political." Many countries of the BRI are war-torn and very dangerous. "This is the first level at which to fight terrorism," he says. The danger, from Lamnidis’ point of view, is that if the initiative doesn’t include these countries, there will only be a maritime connection.

Gunnar Wiegand, Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific at the European External Action Service (EEAS), pointed out that Europe meets China, as well as other Asian partners. "After all, the whole concept is based on connectivity across borders." There are very well developed Japanese and Indian or Australian policies as well, he says and claims: "Europe has to work with many partners despite the fact that Europe is No 1 for China and vice versa in terms of trade and investment."

Don’t just spend your resources, understand the players

Dins Merirands, Deputy State Secretary of the Ministry of Transportation of the Republic of Latvia, is also convinced that economic dependency only exists at first sight. “I believe the project comes with interdependency,” he says.

Either way, it is safe to say that BRI is not a short-term initiative. "These projects take decades to mature and promote understanding of each other," says Lamnidis and adds: "Don’t just spend your resources, understand the players."

Searching for the next big thing

The mobility sector is undergoing considerable disruption. It's being driven not only by the growing market shares of alternative propulsion technologies, but also by the emergence of new usage scenarios that are made possible by new developments in the digital sector. Opening the panel, host Bernhard Bartsch, a Senior Expert for the “Germany and Asia” program at Bertelsmann Stiftung, asked who would emerge as the main driver behind the mobility revolution: China or the European countries?

Corinne Abele, Head of the Foreign Trade Information Bureau at Germany Trade and Invest (GTAI), believes that China has set its sights firmly on the mobility revolution – and that the main driver is the central government. Abele cited various laws, regulations and subsidies such as forthcoming requirements on car manufacturers to produce certain quotas of electric cars, or the restrictions on petrol-fuelled cars in certain cities through financial deterrents. "This is definitely changing the market, and it's based more on framework and regulations than on pricing and market mechanisms," Abele said.

Mobility services are future

Björn Avemark, Head of Business Development and Portfolio Management at Daimler Mobility Services in China, also pointed out the changes in everyday life for Chinese citizens as a result of the country's recent mobility advances. Many didn't have easy access to private or public transport and the void was being filled by new business models. Avemark believes that the specific combination of government policy and market necessities in China will give the country a decisive advantage: "The next big thing in mobility will probably come from China – there are enough people, the regulations are in place, the technology is mostly in place and there's customer acceptance."

Whether in Germany or China – car producers in both markets are transitioning from manufacturers to mobility service providers. The transition is driven by the fact that cars themselves are changing profoundly to become electric, interconnected and intelligent. Hu Yong, Assistant to the General Manager and Director of the Strategy Management and Business Planning Department, FAW (First Automotive Works) Group Co., said cars would increasingly turn into  mobile terminals in constant contact with our everyday lives. According to Hu, there are still technological bottlenecks such as mileage and safety, but these will be resolved in the coming years: "The concept of mobility will be completely disrupted – it will be more human and it will be scenario-based."

The pressure of urbanisation

Europe is feeling the increasing pressure of urbanisation, especially in the major population centres. More and more people are moving into cities, and many of them bring their cars. According to Henrik Isaksen, Founder and CEO of the Danish company Green Mobility A/S, the situation is a catalyst for smarter and more effective transport. It will be facilitated, he said, by an ever-growing array of digital solutions, for which there already is a very vital market in Europe. "There are a lot of mobility solutions here and we are doing very well at combining different solutions."

Contrasting the mobility market with the market for smartphones, Simon Hou, Co-founder and COO of XCharge, said that the scale of the disruptions would be just as vast but not as rapid. The advent of smartphones had improved the user experience by a factor of five to ten, with near total conversion taking place within five or six years. In addition, he said, the average consumer switched to a new phone once every year. In contrast, most drivers only buy a new car every five to six years. "It is a very disruptive change, but it gives people time to really gradually accept that change and move with it."

Synergies drive progress

"Win-win will be a key topic tonight," announced panel host Knut Engelmann, Partner at Kekst CNC in Germany, before introducing the guests of the panel on EU-China investment cooperation. It is clear that there is tremendous economic growth: Foreign direct investment (FDI) from China amounted to EUR 65 billion in 2017. But this also leads to growing concern about whether the competition is fair and transparent.

China needs the European perspective

Sun Yi, Head of China Business Services Germany, Switzerland and Austria as well as Partner Transaction Advisory Services at EY Germany, provided insights from her experience with M&A deals of Chinese investors. In China, technology is often superior, but the companies need a point of entry to the European market. In order to succeed, they have to know their goals and potential partners: "We tell people: Watch news, watch news in English and know what’s going on."

Dong Haochun, VP of Geely Commercial Vehicle Group in the United Kingdom, talked about business activities on a global scale conducted by his company. Geely had to look for strategic partners and synergies. "The reason why we chose Europe is to get a deeper insight into the market and to understand what the consumer wants." There is also a cultural advantage, because Chinese consumers value the quality of European products.

"In an ideal scenario, we are talking about a convergence to a greater level of openness," said Dr Mikko Huotari, Deputy Director of the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) in Germany. Reciprocity rather than protectionism should be welcomed by all parties involved. But research shows that China is not as open to foreign investment as Germany and other European countries. "There is a gap that we have to bridge and that is something that we have to work on together." Huotari does not expect China to open up immediately, but according to him it is still a question of trust and confidence in the reform paths of the Chinese government regarding market access.

Focus shifts from speed to quality

"We are not only open for international, including Chinese, investment, but we will stay open for it. That is built into the European treaties," said Reinhard Bütikofer, Member of the European Parliament and Co-Chair of the European Green Party (EGP). But he sees a necessity to adjust to a changing environment between China and Europe. Due the different political and economic systems, Bütikofer does not think that there will be complete reciprocity. But he stated: "On the basis of reciprocity, we can have beautiful relations."

According to Zhou Yubo, Chairman of China Reform Holdings Corporation, China is moving from high speed growth to high quality growth: "If we are able to work together, e.g. with our counterparts in Germany, we are able to generate advantages for the benefit of each other." The synergies have made progress, said Zhou. "We want to work together with you to organise more forums and summits and to promote our development."

"The Hamburg Summit is here to stay"

High above the roofs of Hamburg, the first day of the Hamburg Summit came to a marvellous end. On invitation of dgroup – part of Accenture Consulting – the participants of the summit had the chance to network and enjoy a wonderful night.

At the Hamburg headquarter of dgroup, information, networking and relaxation was on the agenda at the end of the day. On behalf of Accenture, the mother company of dgroup, Dr Moritz Hagenmüller, Managing Diretor, Accenture, Germany, welcomed the participants.

It is a long tradition that companies from Hamburg with close ties to China host the evening event. Hagenmüller explained why his company takes part in the Hamburg Summit: "Our business is digital transformation and we regard China as a leader in digital transformation and the Hamburg Summit as one of the leading conferences on this topic."

Robert Lorenz-Meyer, Deputy Conference Chairman and Member of the Executive Committee of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, emphasized  the long tradition of the conference. He clarified: "The Hamburg Summit is here to stay."

The closing welcoming remarks came from Olaf Rotax, Managing Director & Co-founder of dgroup. He took pride in his business: "We have an exciting job. We are allowed to build bridges, bridges between China and Europe, and bridges between technology and people."

Between Rösti and digital innovation

With a magnificent view over the Inner and Outer Alster, the participants could indulge in a series of culinary delights. The flying buffet mirrored the motto of the Hamburg Summit "China meets Europe”. Participants could tickle their tastebuds with North Sea prawns with Rösti alongside Hamburg "Rode Grööt" as well as China Noodles and China Rolls with smoked duck.

A virtual flight through different Silicon Valleys of the world gave new insights into what is and will be possible through digital innovation.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

08.30: Keynote speeches and China-Europe Sustainability Award Ceremony

What we need is a One-Europe-Policy … and the China-Europe Sustainability Award goes to Daimler AG

Tuesday’s first keynote speech offered an extensive approach to presenting China with a partner of considerable size. A One-Europe-Policy could become key to future strategic negotiations. And this year’s China-Europe Sustainability Award goes to Daimler AG for their green commitment in China.

Christi Degen, CEO of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, couldn’t be more pleased with the first day of the HamburgSummit18 "China Meets Europe". Her review of the first day also served as an elegant introduction of Prof Dr hc Wolfgang Ischinger, Chairman of the Munich Security Conference. Ischinger opened Tuesday’s first keynote speech on a light note with an anecdote from the early 1970s, when he served in the Office of the Secretary General at the United Nations. "It was one of my first negotiation jobs and my task was to keep the Chinese gift to the UN-building as small as possible," he remembered. In the end, it turned out to be a huge wall mural, by far the largest gift ever. Until today, the painting is on the wall of the delegates’ dining room.

His position as Chairman of the Munich Security Conference deals, above all, with the strategic level of bilateral partnerships. "The bad news is that there are rising tensions on a global scale at a strategic level," he said. For the US, China has become one of the key strategic challenges. "We are back to great power competition!" he emphasized.

Good news: Remarkably strong partnership

On the other hand, as he pointed out, there is no doubt that the relations with China offer tremendous opportunities for the EU. China isn’t "just" the largest customer for European imports anymore; China has evolved into an important player and partner on global issues. However, growing concerns about excessive Chinese influence should not be neglected. "Is it right that China can veto decisions relating to EU-topics?" Ischinger asked and answered immediately: "Probably not".

Highly desirable: A One-Europe-Policy

Ischinger stressed that it is "our job to make sure the relationship develops in a balanced way." Following this line of thought, Ischinger proclaimed that it is a "huge challenge to make sure the Chinese work with someone of considerable size." The answer is the EU as a whole, not individual countries with a few million inhabitants. However, he criticized that a common EU-approach to China hasn’t been found yet. And time is running out. "China knows what they are doing, but do we know what we are doing?"

His suggestion is to regularly invite the EU-Ambassador to be present at state visits. "We are going to be more interesting and more relevant for Chinese partners."

China-Europe Sustainability Award for Daimler AG

Leng Yan, Executive VP of Daimler in Greater China, presented Daimler’s activities in the Chinese market. "We are committed to rendering the mobility of the future more efficient, cleaner and safer," stated Leng. "Sustainability is not just a buzzword at Daimler,” he said. For this comittment, Dr Torsten Teichert, Member of the Executive Committee of the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce, awarded Yan Leng on behalf of Daimler with the "China-Europe Sustainability Award 2018". "We will do as the Germans say: Let’s continue!" Leng Yan said in his acceptance speech.

"China has an opportunity to contribute to the fourth industrial revolution"

In China, more people use smartphones than in the USA and the European Union combined. This is reflected by how the Chinese go shopping. The digital transformation has changed the habits of consumers. The panel discussed what Europe could learn from China.

The digital consumer in China is young, technically adept and likes to spend money. As an example, Karl Wehner, Managing Director (Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Eastern Europe, Turkey) of Alibaba Group, told the audience about the spending on 11th November, China's equivalent to Black Friday. In a single day, Alibaba customers alone bought goods online for over USD 30 billion.

According to Wehner, this is an indicator of how retail will change in Europe and the USA as well.
Ragnar Kruse, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Smaato, pointed outthat Chinese citizens increasingly organise their daily lives with their mobile devices, and that this also applies to shopping.

Alan Yuan, CFO of Souche, described how this fact had changed the way consumers bought cars: "Digital means that you have to target the right customer at the right location with the right message at the right time – especially in the market for cars, where customers only return every few years."

"How can we foster and deepen the cooperation between Europe and China?", host Olaf Rotax, Managing Director & Co-Founder of dgroup – part of Accenture Consulting, asked at one point during the panel's discussion. Dr Huang Dinglong, Co-founder and CEO of Malong Technologies, Co. Ltd., went back in time to answer the question: "300 years ago, the first industrial revolution was started in Europe. Today China has an opportunity to contribute to the fourth industrial revolution, and collaboration between it and Europe is very important in this regard."

"Everything will be fully connected in the near future"

Regarding Industry 4.0 as a digital upgrade in manufacturing on the way to "Made in China 2025" the participants of this panel focussed on the customer perspective. A central question was: How does this digitalisation process change the business of European and Chinese enterprises? Other buzzwords were smart service, Big Data, Internet of Things, transparency and security.

One fact transpired right at the beginning of the panel: smarter manufacturing and industry will not leave people behind. In his opening, host Frank Riemensperger, Senior Managing Director, Geographic Unit Lead Germany, Switzerland, Austria of Accenture GmbH asked: "What are the new promises you can give to your customers?"

Wang Yongzhi, CIO, CRRC Corporation, highlighted that Germany was a role model: "We had to do some research when we were developing a strategy. How can we promote innovation, green and high quality for sustainable development? There is still a gap, we can learn a lot from German companies here," he said.

Another central question of the panel was: "How can we combine many elements to create smart products that improve quality and efficiency?" Cui Haifeng, Managing Director, Enterprise Business Group for Huawei, emphasised the new era that Industry 4.0 stands for: "Everything will be fully connected in the near future. Everything will be digitalized." With regard to Industry 4.0, the greater scope of connectivity will not be limited to the personal sphere, but businesses in China and Germany also want to connect to every single person.

Put the customer at the centre

Hala Zeine, President Digital Supply Chain for SAP SE, made clear, that a "great customer experience is based on a new product experience." According to her, the new forms of smart technology, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Big Data combined profoundly change the way a shopping experience is shaped from the customers’ point of view.

Toni Cheng, General Manager of DACH & CEE Region at Alibaba Cloud, fully agreed with this and put his company’s experience with Alibaba Cloud forward as an example. He also pointed out, that Big Data is not just about traffic, but also about safety.

Zhao Mengda, Chief Strategy Investment Officer (CSIO) at Tuya Smart, introduced the perspective of investment to the panel. According to him, many smaller Chinese companies became customers of Tuya Smart, because they don’t have the means to make their products smarter. They require new IT-solutions, including hardware and app development.

Li Zheng, President, Greater China at NXP Semiconductors mentioned the high speed train from Shanghai to Beijing as an example, when he illustrated everyday experience with smart technology and the IoT.

Other topics discussed were Block Chain and artificial intelligence. Asked about the differences between the Chinese and German customers, the diverse mentality and culture were mentioned. Wang reminded the audience of the huge population Chinese companies are confronted with when adopting smart technology and Big Data. According to him, German companies like SAP and Siemens benefit from a good industrial and management foundation. "Rules are well established here in Germany," he said with a smile.

"Hope for the future"

The closing lunch started off on a light note, matching the menu's pickled salmon with star aniseed and ginger. More than 400 participants and around 100 journalists attended this year's Hamburg Summit18, that was to close this Tuesday afternoon.

As a snack in between for the mind, Tobias Bergmann, Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, pointed out that he is putting a lot of trust in Chinese partners to shape a reliable and lasting partnership with Europe. The ultimate goal is to further develop cooperation.

The Hamburg Summit remains one of the most important platforms for Sino-European economic dialogue. That was the conclusion drawn by Bergmann.

The Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce went on to express his gratitude to the Chinese representatives and delegates for sharing their views on how China and Europe, which he cited as main drivers of the global economy, could make progress on current pressing issues. "China’s transition creates tremendous opportunities for investment and market access, but also innovation and cooperation, if there is a clear understanding of common interests, and also of legitimate concerns," Bergmann said.

Hamburg as a traditional hub between Europe and China

Dr Peter Tschentscher, First Mayor and President of the Senate of the City of Hamburg, highlighted the fact that his city has been a traditional hub between Europe and China for several centuries, and that China and a strong and stable Europe could make excellent partners.

Looking to the future, Tschentscher emphasised Hamburg's ambition to become a strong partner in the Belt and Road Initiative, a project he said had great potential for multilateral trade and the world economy as a whole. "The new Silk Road network is not a one way street," Tschentscher said. "It creates new opportunities for companies from all the countries involved."

Hamburg's First Major is also pleased with the European-Chinese economic conference. "It has found a most suitable site," he said.

With these words, the audience moved on to the main course: shoulder of beef, peas and pod with mashed potatoes and truffles.

The next hearty food for thought will be delivered by keynote speaker Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner for Competition at the European Commission, after the main course.

Margrethe Vestager began her speech with an anecdote from her youth in western Denmark. When she was five years old, Vestager started to dig a hole in the ground to go to China. Vestager was not successful, the goal was too ambitious, but the wish for contact to the Asian country was established.

No strangers any more

At that time, in the 1970s, China was unimaginably distant, "one didn't know one another", she pointed out. Today, "we're still different in many ways, but we are not strangers anymore". She mentioned several examples, where China and Europe have to deal with the same challenges, e.g. climate change. "Shanghai, Hamburg and Copenhagen are all threatened by rising sea levels."
 
Close cooperation was a central topic for the European Commissioner. In times of growing tensions due to perceived unfairness in trade, Vestager appealed to China to work together with Europe. "We are not just any partner. Our size gives us influence, it gives us hope for the future," she said, referring to both parties.

She called for an international trade system, based on the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). She asked for China’s support in finding and implementing reforms required by the WTO.
Picking up her story from the beginning, Vestager said, that even when her goal of digging a passage to China was too ambitious, it was the right idea to have close links between China and Europe. "So pick up your spade and start digging."

Our friendship is alive

Andreas Scheuer, Germany’s Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, clearly enjoyed the view from the speaker’s platform at the Closing Lunch of the Hamburg Summit 2018. "I see, our friendship with China is alive," he said smiling. He also conveyed warm and heartfelt greetings from Chancellor Angela Merkel. "China is close to us, much closer than countries that are located in-between geographically," he said.

Scheuer expressed his strong admiration with regard to Chinese planning and organisation with an anecdote from Shanghai’s port. "Back then, when I was there as vice minister, there was only one truck," he remembered. But when asked, why and how, he was told: "We are planning this construction site for 2040."

Both countries need mobility solutions for people who don’t drive

Not surprisingly, Scheuer’s main field of interest is the "Future of Mobility", which includes digitalization and green technology. "We will need different approaches," he stressed and added "and a level playing field and equal opportunities." We are promoting all technologies here, he said, including automated and network-based transport roads. "The Chinese Minister of Mobility even told me that we have to solve the problem," Scheuer reported.

Given the success of the European-Chinese connectivity platform, he emphasised that German companies are open to pragmatic collaboration, based on international standards including human rights. Andreas Scheuer’s final claim was: "We would like to see more transparency, fair competition and open markets with fewer trade barriers." From his point of view, the flourishing German-Chinese partnership would become even closer then.

"Competition is very important"

The most high-ranking official at the Hamburg Summit had the honour to give the last keynote speech of the conference. Liu He, Vice-Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, started by praising Hamburg and some of its renowned citizens. He mentioned Helmut Schmidt, the former chairman of the Hamburg Summit, as well as the composer Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy, whose music Liu could only enjoy in secret during the times of China’s Cultural Revolution.

Turning his focus to the economy, Liu said that China is still on a path of growth. In the first nine months of this year, China’s GDP increased by 6.7 percent. "And we are starting to render our economy greener, more efficient and more modern." He described his country as being on the way from a planned economy toward a social market economy.

"The differences between our social systems and development models, which we both acknowledge, make it all the more important for us to promote mutual understanding and mutual accommodation, which serve as the very foundation for co-operation between us,"Liu said. He added that recognition of differences and respect for each other were key to such mutual understanding and accommodation.

Liu also promised, that China will proceed on the way to openness. "Competition is very important." As an example, he cited that China pulled down barriers for foreign companies in the financial market. Like Vestager, he promotes reforms of the WTO-rules and promised China’s support.

Sustainable growth

In his closing remarks, Deputy Conference Chairman, Robert Lorenz-Meyer, called the eighth edition of the Hamburg Summit a "great success" and a positive example of how European and Chinese businesses can cooperate to foster innovation and sustainable growth.

Acknowledging that the world was currently in the middle of a trade war, Lorenz-Meyer extended his special thanks to Liu He, Vice-Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China and the summit's guest of honour: "We appreciate your staunch support as a defender of free trade within the WTO framework."

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Guests of honour 2018

Liu He, Vice-Premier of the People’s Republic of China

Guests of honour 2018

Margrethe Vestager, Commissioner for Competition of the European Commission

Guests of honour 2018

Andreas Scheuer, Federal Minister of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, Federal Republic of Germany

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