Cablegate: Ruettgers Looking to the East After Successful China Trip

DE RUEHDF #0050/01 3560954
R 220954Z DEC 09



E.O. 12958: N/A

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1. (U) Summary: A recent visit to China by North
Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) Minister-President Juergen Ruettgers
(CDU), the first by a NRW Minister-President since 1988, focused
on trade, economics, science and cultural matters, but political
issues, such as the role of the Dalai Lama, were also raised.
Ruettgers was accompanied by a delegation of approximately 100
business leaders and scientific experts. During the visit, the
Chinese telecommunication and IT conglomerate Huawei announced
plans to expand its investments in NRW by establishing a
research and development center in Duesseldorf. A high-level
official of the NRW state chancellery described the visit as
"extremely successful." NRW's investment arm, NRWInvest, told
us that, given NRW's transport and logistics infrastructure, the
goal was to make NRW a jumping-off point for Chinese business in
Europe. Publicly, Ruettgers played up the visit, saying that
NRW has a good chance of becoming the "center for the China
business in Germany and Europe." End summary.

Business, Research Cooperation and the Dalai Lama

--------------------------------------------- --------------

2. (U) Ruettgers' senior foreign policy advisor Herbert Jakoby,
who was present at all of the M-P's meetings with his Chinese
interlocutors, told Pol/Econ staff on December 7 that Ruettgers
was accompanied by an unusually large delegation of around 100.
The delegation consisted of businessmen from NRW (mostly from
SMEs), science and education experts, government officials, and
journalists. Deputy Minister-President and Innovation Minister
Andreas Pinkwart (FDP) also participated in the first part of
the visit, which began in Beijing and continued with meetings in
Shanghai, Nanjing and Chengdu.

3. (SBU) Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Zhang Dejiang, who has
special responsibilities for economic and financial affairs, was
Ruettgers' highest ranking interlocutor in Beijing. The
conversation was not confined to economic themes. Zhang raised
the issue of the Dalai Lama's May 2008 visit to Germany,
expressing the Chinese government's displeasure over Ruettgers'
meeting with the Dalai Lama at that time. (Comment: In fact, it
was Ruettgers' second meeting with the Dalai Lama. End Comment)
According to Jakoby, this topic came as a complete surprise to
the delegation, since preparatory meetings with Chinese
counterparts had given no indication that the Chinese would
raise the issue. Countering the criticism, Ruettgers stressed
that his meeting with the Dalai Lama was in connection with the
latter's function as a religious leader and did not have a
political aspect. Ruettgers added that he has never questioned
the "one-China policy" and would adhere to this position in the
future as well. Jakoby noted that Zhang is known as one of
China's "conservative hardliners."

4. (SBU) Ruettgers and Innovation Minister Pinkwart also met
with Chinese Science Minister Wan Gang to explore possibilities
for closer cooperation between Chinese universities and research
institutions and their counterparts in NRW. In a speech given
during a public forum at the Chinese-European Chamber of
Commerce in Beijing, Ruettgers raised IPR, rule of law and
competition issues. The forum was also addressed by Yu Chabing,
the director of a Chinese think tank and advisor to the Chinese
government, who, according to Jakoby, showed "remarkable
openness" in describing China's present problems (pollution,
corruption, ineffective administration, demographic change,
developmental differences between rural and urban areas). For
Jakoby, Yu's remarks were a sign of "limited pluralism" in
China, which could no longer be described as a monolithic

Focus on Trade and Investment


5. (SBU) In Shanghai, Nanjing and Chengdu, Ruettgers visited
four subsidiaries of NRW companies and several Chinese companies
which have invested or are planning to invest in NRW. Huawei, a
telecommunication and IT company based in Shanghai, announced
during the visit that it will expand its European headquarters

DUSSELDORF 00000050 002.3 OF 002

in Duesseldorf by establishing a research and developing center
there, creating several hundred new jobs. In Nanjing and
Chengdu, Ruettgers met with the governors of the Jiangsu and
Sichuan provinces and signed cooperation agreements to further
develop the partnerships between NRW and these provinces. At a
press conference following his return from China, Ruettgers
expressed satisfaction with the results of his trip, saying that
NRW has a good chance of becoming the "center of China's
business in Germany and Europe." Contacts at NRWInvest
presented a slightly less lofty -- and perhaps more realistic --
goal: NRW, with its well-developed transport and logistics
capabilities, as a jumping-off point for China for at least this
part of Europe.



6. (SBU) Ruettgers' trip to China reflects the NRW government's
determination to continue to reach out to new markets and
potential investors. Recognizing China's ascendant role, it
makes sense for the state -- already a focal point for Japanese
business, as well as U.S. investment -- to try to draw in as
much Chinese business as possible. Their pitch of NRW as a
state with a well-developed infrastructure is a strong selling
point. It makes sense as well for NRW to seek diversity for its
export-oriented economy. This latest experience in China is
something else Ruettgers will have in his pocket when he makes
his annual trip to the U.S. in February and for state elections
in May.

7. (U) This cable was coordinated with Embassy Berlin.

© Scoop Media

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