Innovation Talk - China

Innovation Talk is BMR's new successful digital format that highlights current, relevant topics together with BMR's international network partners and brings together companies from the metropolis with innovative start-ups and experts from all over the world. 

In the "Innovation Talk - China" on May 7, 2020, the enormous impact of the corona crisis on German-Chinese economic relations was highlighted together with high-ranking China experts. The talk was moderated by BMR-HUB-Manager Frank Speer.

How can China's society and economy find its way out of the corona crisis and what lessons can we learn from it? What effects is the German automotive and supplier industry currently facing and what else can we expect? How could the town twinning between Duisburg and Wuhan contribute to overcoming the crisis in both cities? How do Chinese start-ups manage to take advantage of the current situation for new, digital business opportunities?

We document here the key statements of the speakers from their presentations.

Rasmus Beck, Managing Director Business Metropole Ruhr:

  • Cooperation with China and other countries lives from concrete projects.
  • The new event format Innovation Talk is about discussing current issues of international economic development with top-class guests and speakers.
  • The Innovation Bridge brings together companies from the metropolis with innovative start-ups and experts from all over the world.

Frank Sieren, columnist of the Handelsblatt and one of the leading German experts on China:


  • The socio-economic situation in China and other Asian countries is easing and China was able to compensate for its declining exports to the West with exports to Asian markets.
  • Based on their previous experience, China and other Asian countries have coped quite well with the current crisis compared to SARS 2003 and were able to mitigate the consequences. Compared to other countries, there were fewer deaths from corona in percentage terms.
  • Exports now account for only 20% of China's GDP, 80% is domestic consumption, so dependence on foreign markets is not as strong as assumed.
  • The Chinese government is currently implementing an economic stimulus package amounting to around 4% of GDP, which may rise to as much as 10% of GDP.
  • Property prices in China have fallen little and the crisis will not affect China's overall economic stability. The question is how the West can benefit from the Asian upswing.
  • The dependence on Asian markets will increase and Asia has moved closer together in the crisis. At the same time, China's conflict with the declining world power USA will not diminish, but rather intensify.

    Newsletter and contact Frank Sieren this way.

Jens Hildebrandt, Managing Director of the German Chamber of Commerce Beijing:

  • Too much optimism with regard to the Chinese economy is not appropriate; after all, the quarterly figures for 2020 were very poor in China, especially the retail, service and production figures and tourism were recently only 50% of their former value.
  • GDP is also a political variable in China and the government must perform a balancing act between austerity and stimulus, with a stimulus package expected to increase liquidity in companies.
  • The AHK was very busy during the months of the crisis, and flash surveys showed that the situation of German companies in China normalized from mid-March onwards and continued to improve until autumn. Automotive sales, for example, are almost back at the previous year's level.
  • The AHK still expects the situation to remain tense over the next 24 months as a result of the epidemic, and ways must be found to ensure that bilateral trade can nevertheless be maintained and strengthened.

    Contact to Jens Hildebrandt this way.

Prof. Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, until 2020 Full Professor of Business Administration and Automotive Economics at the University of Duisburg-Essen and now at the University of St. Gallen.

  • The Chinese automotive industry has been affected by the crisis and the trade war between the USA and China is additionally damaging the economy, not least indirectly also Germany.
  • There is overcapacity in the German car industry and there will be job cuts of up to 100,000 jobs.
  • VW´s switch to electric vehicles is good for the German automotive industry and the German economy.
  • It remains to be seen whether Shenzhen will replace Silicon Valley as a technical and innovative center. In any case, digitalization is a very important issue and China is in a strong position here.
  • China is increasingly becoming a global focus of the economy and dealing with China is difficult at the same time. Still it makes sense to cooperate with China economically.
  • Duisburg, with its 50 trains a week to and from China, is laying important foundations for connections and practical cooperation, even though only one in three trains returns to China in full capacity.

    Contact to Prof. Ferdinand Dudenhöffer
    this way.

Ralf Meurer, Managing Director of the Duisburg Economic Development Agency:


  • The connection between Duisburg and Wuhan has been very close for a long time and goes beyond the an ordinary city friendship and is filled with life. Many reciprocal delegations take place and Duisburg-Wuhan was the first partnership in Germany with a Chinese city.
  • For example, Duisburg supported the twin city in a fundraising campaign, which was well received in Wuhan. In return, Wuhan helped Duisburg with deliveries at the height of the corona crisis in Germany.
  • The Chinese head of state Xi Jinping has already visited Duisburg as part of the Belt and Road Initiative. More and more cities in China are being connected to the link. On the German side, Duisburg is an important hub from where further connections within Europe are made.
  • Freight traffic from Germany to China is being further expanded. During the Corona crisis, however, freight traffic has currently fallen sharply.
  • The next Business and Investors Forum China is planned for 30th September in Duisburg.

    Contact to Ralf Meurer
    this way.

Alvaro Montoya, co-founder of the start-up Akkadu:


  • Akkadu provides online simultaneous translation services from interpreters around the world for online webinars from various platforms. More and more interpreters use Akkadu, which has already been integrated into Chinese apps such as K Talk.

    Contact to Alvaro Montoya this way.

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