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Principled Pragmatism: The Eastern Committee of German Economy and West German–Chinese relations during the early Cold War, 1949–1958

  • GIOVANNI BERNARDINI (a1)
Abstract
Abstract

This article focuses on the interplay between the political authorities and economic actors in the Federal Republic of Germany in the process of establishing relations with the People's Republic of China after 1949. Within this framework, the article will assess the role played by the Ost-Ausschuss der Deutschen Wirtschaft (Eastern Committee of German Economy), a semi-official organization recognized by the West German government. Both the ability of German economic actors and China's urgent need for economic contact with the West caused German-Chinese trade relations to circumvent the strict non-recognition policy followed by the West German government. The article also argues that, while economic relations heralded official recognition of the People's Republic of China by other Western European countries, in the case of the Federal Republic of Germany a division between the two spheres was finally accepted by the major actors involved, and ended only after the change of attitude imparted by the Nixon presidency in the United States during the early 1970s.

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1 As an example, see: Yahuda M. (2008). ‘The Sino-European Encounter: Historical Influences on Contemporary Relations’, in Shambaugh D., Sandschneider E. and Hong Z. (eds). China-Europe Relations: Perceptions, Policies and Prospects, Routledge, New York, pp. 1332 .

2 Berghahn V.R. (1996). ‘German Big Business and the Quest for a European Economic Empire in the Twentieth Century’, in Berghahn V.R. (ed.). Quest for Economic Empire, Berghahn Books, New York, p. viii .

3 Le Gloannec A.-M. (2007). ‘Non-State Actors and “Their” State’, in Le Gloannec A.-M. (ed.). Non-State Actors in International Relations. The Case of Germany, Manchester University Press, Manchester, p. 2 .

4 Eberstein B. (1988). Hamburg—China. Geschichte einer Partnerschaft, Christians Verlag, Hamburg, pp. 4960 .

5 Kyle Crossley P. (2010). The Wobbling Pivot. China since 1800, Wiley-Blackwell, Hoboken, p. 86 .

6 Kirby W.C. (1984). Germany and Republican China, Stanford University Press, Stanford, p. 12 .

7 Tanner H.M. (2010). China: A History. Vol. II: From the Great Qing Empire Through the People's Republic of China, Hackett Publishing, Indianapolis, p. 133 .

8 Kirby, Germany and Republican China, p. 24.

9 Martin B. (1981). Die Deutsche Beraterschaft in China 1927–1938: Militär, Wirtschaft, Außenpolitik, Droste, Düsseldorf .

10 Leitz C. (2004). Nazi Foreign Policy, 1933–1941: The Road to Global War, Routledge, London, pp. 128129 .

11 Kirby, Germany and Republican China, p. 153.

12 Ibid., p. 20.

13 Leitz, Nazi Foreign Policy, p. 130.

14 Gray W.G. (2003). Germany's Cold War. The Global Campaign to Isolate East Germany 1949–1969, University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill .

15 Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, the West German Foreign Ministry sent detailed instructions to Bonn's representatives abroad containing legal and political arguments to use in denying any such comparison. As an example, see: Politisches Archiv des Auswärtigen Amtes [hereafter PA-AA], Bestand B 80, Band 353, Memorandum by Abteilung II, ‘Unterschied zwischen der Deutschland-Frage und der China-Frage’, 22 January 1964.

16 PA-AA, Bestand AV, Band 7555, Memorandum from the West German Embassy in Washington, ‘Amerikanische Stellungnahme zur Theorie zweiter chinesischer Staaten’, 24 February 1958.

17 Leutner M. (ed.) (1995). Bundesrepublik Deutschland und China 1949 bis 1995, Akademie Verlag, Berlin, p. 42 .

18 Rudolph K. (2004). Wirtschaftsdiplomatie im Kalten Krieg. Die Ostpolitik der westdeutschen Großindustrie 1945–1991, Campus Verlag, Frankfurt, p. 156 .

19 Cain F. (2007). Economic Statecraft During the Cold War. European Responses to the US Trade Embargo, Routledge, London, p. 5 .

20 Spaulding, R.M. (1996). ‘“Reconquering Our Old Position”: West German Osthandel Strategies of the 1950s’, in Berghahn (ed.). The Quest for Economic Empire, p. 115.

21 Braun H.J. (1990). The German Economy in the Twentieth Century. The German Reich and the Federal Republic, Routledge, London, p. 109 .

22 PA-AA, Bestand B 130, Band 4656A, Minister Erhard to Chancellor Adenauer, 25 September 1950.

23 Spaulding, ‘“Reconquering Our Old Position”’, p. 132.

24 Neebe, R. (1996). ‘German Big Business and the Return of the World Market after World War II’, in Berghahn (ed.). The Quest for Economic Empire, p. 117.

25 Braun, The German Economy, pp. 127–129.

26 Jüngerkes S. (2012). Diplomaten der Wirtschaft. Die Geschichte des Ost-Ausschusses der Deutschen Wirtschaft, Fibre, Osnabrück, pp. 28 ss.; Spaulding, ‘“Reconquering Our Old Position”’, p. 131.

27 As an example, see: Wolff von Amerongen O. (1992). Der Weg Nach Osten. Vierzig Jahre Brückenbau für die deutsche Wirtschaft, Dromer Knaur, München .

28 Jüngerkes, Diplomaten der Wirtschaft, p. 42.

29 Cain F. (1995). The US-Led Trade Embargo on China: the Origins of CHINCOM, 1947–52, The Journal of Strategic Studies, 18:4, p. 42 .

30 Kirby, Germany and Republican China, p. 194.

31 Rheinish-Westfälisches Wirtschaftsarchiv [hereafter RWWA], Abt. 72, 389-1, Memorandum by Otto Wolff von Amerongen, 10 October 1949.

32 RWWA, Abt. 72, 389-1, Report of travel to Machuria by the members of the ‘Fu Sze Company—Tientsin Branch’ to Alexander Ruenges of the ‘Otto Wolff’, 2 March 1950.

33 RWWA, Abt. 72, 389-1, David L.F. Sung, Managing Director of ‘United Engineering Corporation Ltd.’ Hong Kong to Otto Wolff von Amerongen, 25 March 1950.

34 Ibid.

35 Cain, The US-Led Trade Embargo on China, p. 43.

36 Mitcham C. (2005). China's Economic Relations with the West and Japan, 1949–1979. Grain, Trade and Diplomacy, Routledge, London, p. 6 .

37 RWWA, Abt. 72, Memorandum of Otto Wolff von Amerongen, 16 February 1951.

38 PA-AA, Bestand 80, Band 27, Memorandum for Hirschfeld and Nostitz, Zahlungen an Rot China, 24 August 1951.

39 RWWA, Abt. 72, 389-1, Otto Wolff to ‘Fu Sze’ in Tientsin, 23 February 1951.

40 RWWA, Abt. 72, 389-1, Memorandum of Bilow to Otto Wolff, 18 June 1953.

41 Jüngerkes, Diplomaten der Wirtschaft, p. 142.

42 RWWA, Abt. 72, 389-1, Voges to Otto Wolff on the meetings in East Berlin, 25 November 1952.

43 RWWA, Abt. 72, 459-1, Record of the plenary session of the Arbeitskreis China (Ost-Ausschuss), 13 March 1953.

44 Jüngerkes, Diplomaten der Wirtschaft, p. 143.

45 RWWA, Abt. 72, 389-1, Memorandum of Otto Wolff von Amerongen on the meetings held in Geneva, 6 May 1954.

46 RWAA, Abt. 72, 389-1, Lange from East Berlin to Otto Wolff von Amerongen, 18 March 1954.

47 Wolff von Amerongen, Der Weg nach Osten, p. 243.

48 Mitcham, China's Economic Relations with the West and Japan, p. 15.

49 RWWA, Abt. 72, 389-1, Memorandum of Otto Wolff von Amerongen on the meetings held in Geneva, 6 May 1954.

50 RWWA, Abt 175, 4-3, Reinhardt of the Ministry of the Economy to the ‘Ost-Ausschuss’, 21 January 1954.

51 Ching, C. (2006). ‘Trade Without Flag. West Germany and China 1949–1972’, PhD thesis, The University of Hong Kong Pokfulam, p. 205.

52 Jüngerkes, Diplomaten der Wirtschaft, p. 142.

53 Ching, ‘Trade Without Flag’, p. 214.

54 PA-AA, Bestand 80, Band 353, Memorandum from Brautigam to all German representatives abroad, Anerkennung zur Volksrepulik China und ihre Beziehungen zu anderen Ländern, 30 December 1955.

55 Ibid., p. 212; RWWA, Abt. 175, 4-1, Letter from the President of the ‘Arbeitskreis China’, Heinrick Köhler, to the General Director of the ‘Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie’, Hans-Wilhelm Beutler, 3 May 1955.

56 PA-AA, Bestand 80, Band 353, Memorandum from the Foreign Ministry to all German representations abroad, Frage der Anerkennung der Volskrepublic China und ihre Beziehungen zu anderen Ländern, 30 December 1955.

57 See Romano's article in this special issue.

58 RWWA, Abt. 175, 4-1, Letter from Beutler to van Scherpenberg of the Foreign Ministry, 24 May 1956.

59 RWWA, Abt. 175, 4-1, Letter from Otto Wolff to Heinrick Köhler, 18 September 1956.

60 RWWA, Abt. 72, 389-1, Letter from Drossel to Otto Wolff von Amerongen, 23 December 1955.

61 PA-AA, Bestand 1, Band 66, Memorandum by van Scherpenberg of the Foreign Ministry, Die Verhandlungen im China-Komitee über eine Ermässigung der Embargo-Massnahmen gegenüber der VR China im Fruhjahr 1957, 25 May 1957.

62 Jüngerkes, Diplomaten der Wirtschaft, p. 144.

63 RWWA, Abt. 175, 4-1, Letter from Beutler to van Scherpenberg of the Foreign Ministry, 24 May 1956.

64 On Italy, see Zanier's and Meneguzzi Rostagni's articles in this special issue.

65 RWWA, Abt. 175, 4-1, Letter from Reuter to Köhler, 5 May 1955.

66 RWWA, Abt 72, 381-2, Speech by Otto Wolff von Amerongen to the Cologne Chamber of Commerce, 17 May 1956.

67 Ching, ‘Trade Without Flag’, p. 216.

68 RWWA, Abt. 175, 4-1, Record of the plenary session of the ‘Arbeitskreis China’ in Bremen, 12 October 1956.

69 RWWA, Abt. 175, 4-3, Letter from Berg to Adenauer, 12 March 1957.

70 PA-AA, Bestand 63, Band 139, Memorandum of van Scherpenberg of the Foreign Ministry, Ein- und Ausfuhrvereinbarung zwischen den Ostausschuss der Deutschen Wirtschaft und dem China-Committee for the Promotion of International Trade, 26 July 1957.

71 PA-AA, Bestand AV, Band 7555, Letter from Dittmann of the German Consulate in Hong Kong to Kessel in the Foreign Ministry, 14 March 1957.

72 PA-AA, Bestand 63, Band 136, Memorandum from Zahn-Stranik of the Foreign Office, Die Wirtschaftsbeziehungen der BRD zur VR China nach Aufhebung des China-Differentials, 4 July 1957.

73 RWWA, Abt. 72, 381-2, Letter from Otto Wolff to the Director of the ‘Ostasiatischer Verein’ Hans Stoltenberg-Lerche, 7 October 1957.

74 RWWA, Abt. 175, 5-1, Proceedings of the first negotiating session, 10 September 1957.

75 For the full text of the agreement, see Leutner (ed.), Bundesrepublik Deutschland und China, p. 73.

76 RWWA, Abt. 72, 381-2, Letter from Otto Wolff to Hans Stoltenberg-Lerche, 7 October 1957.

77 RWWA, Abt. 175, 5-1, Letter from Otto Wolff to the President of the CCPIT Nan Han-Cheng.

78 RWWA, Abt. 175, 5-1, Proceedings of the fifth plenary session, 18 September 1957.

79 PA-AA, Bestand 63, Band 139, Memorandum from the German Consulate in Hong Kong to the Foreign Ministry, Direktgeschäft mit der Volksrepublik China; Ergebnis der Verhandlungen der Delegation des Ostausschusses der Deutschen Wirtschaf in Peking, 17 October 1957.

80 RWWA, Abt. 175, 5-1, Record of the meeting between the German delegation to Beijing and Reinhard of the Foreign Ministry, 11 November 1957.

81 Ching, ‘Trade Without Flag’, p. 218.

82 Jüngerkes, Diplomaten der Wirtschaft, p. 151.

83 Hsiao G.T. (1977). The Foreign Trade of China. Policy, Law and Practice, University of California Press, Berkeley, pp. 4150 .

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Modern Asian Studies
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