Vilified in the United States as a great sucking sound on the American economy, China is courted here as a revered client. Fast-growing demand from Asia’s giant is helping to fuel the strong German recovery, and Germany now stands as proof that a rich nation can profit off China’s rise.
China passed the United States last year as the No. 1 overseas market for big-ticket German machinery, with Teutonic titans from Siemens to Volkswagen – which so far this year has sold 1.3 million cars in China, five times as many as it has in the United States – ramping up production and payrolls to fill Chinese orders.
More important, China is driving growth at smaller German manufacturing firms like Scheipermeier’s Nobilia that form the true backbone of Europe’s largest economy. A family-run company making modular kitchens in a half-mile-long factory, where free-roaming robots work alongside humans on the most advanced assembly line of its kind in the world, Nobilia is treating nouveau riche Chinese like Americans of the 1950s – when nothing said success such as a sparkling, modern kitchen.