Frankfurt (German: Frankfurt am Main) is the largest city in the German state of Hesse, and is considered the business and financial centre of Germany. It is the fifth largest city in Germany after Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Cologne. The city is known for its modern skyline, and for hosting the headquarters of the European Central Bank, the Deutsche Börse stock exchange and numerous German financial services companies. Furthermore, it hosts some of the world’s most important trade shows, such as the Frankfurt Auto Show and the Frankfurt Book Fair. Located on the river Main at a crossroad of the German Autobahn system and connected to several high-speed rail lines, with Germany’s busiest airport on its outskirts, Frankfurt is one of the most important transportation hubs of Europe.
- I Territorial subdivisions
- II When to visit
- III Tourist information
- IV Get in
- V History of Frankfurt
- VI Geography and Weather in Frankfurt
- VII Getting Around in Frankfurt
- VIII Main Attractions, Sights and Things to do
- IX Shopping in Frankfurt
- X Eating Out in Frankfurt
- XI Nightlife in Frankfurt
- XII Other Points of Interest
Sitting at the geographical center of the European Union, Frankfurt is a prominent transportation and finance hub with global influence based in Germany. Visitors can look no further than the city’s futuristic skyline to view the impressive list of companies and organizations that call Frankfurt home. Nicknamed ‘Mainhattan’, the European Central Bank, Frankfurt Stock Exchange, German Federal Bank and Deutsche Bank all reside in the city’s impressive financial district.
Frankfurt is a city of contrasts. Wealthy bankers, students and hippie drop-outs coexist in a city that has some of the highest, most avant-garde skyscrapers of Europe next to well maintained old buildings. The downtown area, especially Römer square and the museums at the River Main, draw millions of tourists every year. On the other hand, many off-the-beaten-track neighbourhoods, such as Bockenheim, Bornheim, Nordend and Sachsenhausen, with their intact beautiful 19th-century streets and parks are often overlooked by visitors.
It’s the heart of the Rhine-Main region, spanning from Mainz and Wiesbaden in the west to Hanau in the east and Gießen in the north to Darmstadt in the south and has some 5,500,000 inhabitants in the whole surrounding metropolitan area.
Frankfurt is the place where Germany’s major autobahns and railways intersect. About 650,000 people commute to the city each day, not counting some 700,000 people who live here. With a huge airport — the third-largest in Europe — it is the gateway to Germany and for many people also the first point of arrival in Europe. Further, it is a prime hub for interconnections within Europe and for intercontinental flights.
In the years following 1968, especially in the late 1970s and up to the early 1980s, Frankfurt was a centre of the left wing Sponti-Szene, which frequently clashed with police and local authorities over politics and urban design issues (specifically whether or not old buildings should be torn down). Several members of these radical groups went on to have quite respectable careers in politics, among them Daniel Cohn-Bendit (long time leading MEP for the Greens) and Joschka Fischer (Foreign Minister and Vice Chancellor 1998-2020), though their erstwhile radical and violent antics did hurt them in their later political careers.
Frankfurt has one of the highest percentage of immigrants in Germany: about 25% of Frankfurt’s people have no German passport and another 10% are naturalized German citizens. With about 35% immigrants, Frankfurt is one of the most diverse of German cities.
Frankfurt is home to many museums, theatres and a world-class opera.
The map of Frankfurt’s subdivisions
Frankfurt is divided into 16 Ortsbezirke, which are further subdivided into 46 Stadtteile. As Frankfurt is an expansive city with a large area given its population, most of those are of little interest to a tourist, with most attractions concentrated in the Ortsbezirk Innenstadt I (there are four Ortsbezirke starting with Innenstadt (“inner city”), distinguished by Roman numerals). Some Stadtteile of particular note are:
- Altstadt (Römer areal) – the heart of Frankfurt’s old town, largely rebuilt after the Second World War
- Innenstadt – named confusingly (sharing its name with the larger Ortsbezirke) is the part embracing the Altstadt up until the old city fortifications, still visible as a green belt on the city map. The home to the most of Frankfurt’s skyscrapers
- Bahnhofsviertel – the densely-built part of the city immediately facing the Hauptbahnhof, hosting the most hotels in town and its red light district
- Gutleutviertel – the area south of the tracks leading up to the Hauptbahnhof, with a modern residential quarter on the Main
- Gallus – the area north of the Hauptbahnhof tracks known most for the past-2010 Europaviertel development (a new city quarter with apartment blocks and offices built around the wide Europaallee next to the fairgrounds)
- Westend – the most expensive part of Frankfurt by land values, mostly covered with low-rise residential buildings and villas, but also several skyscrapers on its edges
- Bornheim – Popular area with small shops, cafés and restaurants, as well as historic taverns and half-timbered houses.
- Sachsenhausen – the historic southern bank of the river Main, which preserved its typical 19th-century character, very different from the modern northern bank punctured by skyscrapers. Includes the Museumsufer museum collection directly at the riverbank. See listing below for further details.
- Höchst – Formerly a separate small town, now a suburb. The small Altstadt, around the Schloss, is one of the closest places to central Frankfurt that you can see large numbers of traditional timber-framed buildings that didn’t get destroyed in the war. The square by the Schloss has some very nice traditional Gaststätte to eat or drink in.
When to visit
The best times for Frankfurt are late spring to early autumn. The summers tend to be sunny and warm around 25°C (77°F). Be prepared, however, for very hot summer days around 35°C (95°F) as well as for light rain. The winters can be cold and rainy (usually not lower than -10°C/14°F). It rarely snows in Frankfurt itself.
If you intend to stay overnight, you may wish to avoid times when trade fairs are held, as this will make finding affordable accommodation a challenging task. The biggest are the Frankfurt Motor Show (Automobil-Ausstellung) every two years in mid-September (next in 2017) and the Book Fair (Buchmesse) yearly in mid-October; see Fairs for details.
There are two offices for tourism information:
- Touristinfo Hauptbahnhof (near the main exit, next to the DB service area, look for the signs) , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Monday to Friday 08:00-21:00, Sa Su Holidays 09:00-18:00; New Year + New Year’s Eve 08:00-13:00; closed 25-26 Dec.
- Touristinfo Römer, Römerberg 27 , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Monday to Friday 09:30–17:30, Sa Su holidays 10:00-16:00 New Year + New Year’s Eve 10:00-13:00; closed 25-26 Dec.
Frankfurt is the heart of central Germany and as such, it is one of the most important transportation hubs. It has excellent connections by rail, road and air. Reaching and leaving Frankfurt is easy.
Frankfurt Airport is among the busiest in Europe — fourth in passenger traffic after Heathrow Airport, Schiphol Airport and Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. Frankfurt is the banking centre of Germany and hosts numerous international trade fairs. Therefore all major airlines and all airline alliances fly frequently to Frankfurt and connect it to every inhabited continent and all major cities in the world. The German flag carrier [Lufthansa] is the main airline in Frankfurt and offers most connections. [Lufthansa] also has several domestic feeder flights to and from Frankfurt that also serve business travelers.
The airport is connected to downtown Frankfurt by taxi, bus (line 61 to (Frankfurt South Station), and most easily by S-Bahn (fast commuter trains).
To get to the city by S-Bahn, take lines or in the direction of Offenbach Ost or Hanau at the regional train station, 2 Frankfurt(M) Flughafen Regionalbahnhof, on the lowest level of Terminal 1 (entrances in section A and B). If your plane lands or departs from Terminal 2, count in another 15 minutes as you need to move between the terminals with either the shuttle bus or the monorail Skytrain (both are free of charge, just follow the signs). If you want to go downtown, get off at , or , which are in the heart of the city. If you want to change to long-distance trains get off at (Frankfurt Central Station). The ride from the airport to the central station takes about 20 minutes. You have to purchase a ticket at the vending machines (only cash) in the train station before boarding the train. The adult ticket costs €4.80 (€2.80 for children).
If you want to go to the airport by S-Bahn, take the or in the direction of Wiesbaden. Don’t take the , since it does not stop at the airport.
ICE 3 at Flughafen Fernbahnhof (Airport long-distance train station)
Regional trains RB and RE to Mainz, Wiesbaden, and Hanau stop at the same place as the S-Bahn to Frankfurt.
Connections outside the Frankfurt region have a separate long-distance train station, 3 Frankfurt(M) Flughafen Fernbahnhof. Here, you can board high-speed long-distance trains (Inter-City and ICE) to Cologne, Munich and other national and international destinations. Local train tickets are not valid on ICE or IC.
The smaller airport called Frankfurt/Hahn , mostly used by no-frills airlines, advertises proximity to Frankfurt. However, Hahn is far away from Frankfurt and it takes about 90 minutes to drive there from downtown to cover the 125 km (78 mi) distance. For that airport, if you have to use it at all, allow more time in your travel plans and budget. A bus from Frankfurt/Hahn to Frankfurt Main airport and on to Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof (Frankfurt Central Station) costs about €14 and leaves roughly every hour. Tickets are available from the kiosk outside in front of the main entrance.
Frankfurt/Hahn is not far (9 km) from Traben-Trarbach, which lies by the Moselle Valley river and has a train station. The streets between the airport and Traben-Trarbach are not lit at night and have no sidewalk.
Travel by train to Frankfurt
Hauptbahnhof with ICE 3M Niederlande
Frankfurt has three major train stations: Hauptbahnhof (main station), Südbahnhof (south station) and the above-mentioned one at the airport (Flughafen Fernbahnhof). However, several inter-city trains that stop at the airport do not stop at Hauptbahnhof. Long-distance trains leaving from Hauptbahnhof do not stop at Südbahnhof, while a few long-distance trains pass by Hauptbahnhof and only stop at Südbahnhof. Check the timetable to make sure you are going to the right station!
Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof is one of the biggest and busiest train stations in Europe, so it’s definitely worth a visit. Frankfurt has connections to most German cities – and neighbouring countries especially to the south and west – via InterCity and high-speed InterCity Express trains. There is no problem to get a connection to any train destination from Frankfurt.
Frankfurt train stations are very large, confusing, labyrinth-like places for newcomers. Allow extra time to locate the boarding area for your train. Don’t hesitate to ask someone for help the first time. There is a large departures signboard above the main exit/entrance with destination and platform information, and you can also get information from the railway travel office in the station.
From the main ticket office at Frankfurt you can buy 5- and 10-day rail travel cards which allow you to travel around Germany using all train services, including the Intercity ones. These are a significant saving on individual train fares. The 5-day ticket costs €189 and the 10-day ticket €289. You cannot buy these tickets from regional train stations.
In addition to regular Deutsche Bahn trains and regional trains on which DB tickets are valid, Frankfurt is also served by Locomore on their Berlin-Stuttgart service. Tickets can be bought through Flixbus, but DB tickets are not valid and there is no BahnCard discount. That said, Locomore tickets are usually considerably cheaper than comparable DB tickets.
Frankfurt is connected to several autobahns and can be easily reached by car. Try to avoid rush-hour and especially snowy days, as car traffic can easily break down. Parking is definitely a problem in most areas. Especially during big conventions—such the Internationale Automobilausstellung (International Automobile Exhibition) in September, or the Frankfurter Buchmesse (Frankfurt Book Fair) in mid-October—you should consider using the well designed park-and-ride system If you intend to stay mostly in Frankfurt and only make day-trips to the bigger cities in the surrounding area, consider leaving the car altogether and arriving by train, as Frankfurt has a superb public transport system (see below).
Frankfurt is serviced by various trans-European buslines like Eurolines. If you are on a tight budget or are scared of air travel, this can be a good way to reach Frankfurt. However, flights booked in advance or special offers for the train may still be cheaper. The bus of course is always the slowest option.
Because it is in the centre of Germany, Frankfurt is also a hub for domestic buses. Major lines to all big and several small cities intersect in Frankfurt, with several daily departures. Buy tickets in advance to get better rates.
All buses pick up and drop off passengers at kerbside on Bus pickup (Stuttgarter Str.), at the south side of the Hauptbahnhof, exit halfway down platform 1. A proper bus terminal is under construction at this site.
History of Frankfurt
In close proximity to one of Europe’s most vital rivers, Frankfurt’s origins date back to the 1st century when it was a Roman outpost. A key city in the Holy Roman Empire, the settlement’s ideal location along the banks of the Main River made it a vital trading post. This led to the founding of the Frankfurter Messe (Frankfurt Trade Fair), which was first mentioned in the 1100s. 900 years later, trade fairs are still a vital part of the local economy.
After developing throughout the Middle Ages and subsequent Renaissance period, the city found itself under the rule of 4 different monarchs and governments over the next several hundred years. Following a tumultuous first half of the 20th century, Frankfurt rose as an economic power in West Germany and became known for its transportation infrastructure, making it an attractive option for companies both nationally and abroad.
The city’s economic importance was only strengthened following the reunification of Germany and the introduction of the Euro over a decade later. Known as the City of the Euro, Frankfurt has propelled itself into a position as a leading global city and now boasts the largest financial center in continental Europe. Along with its financial prowess, the city is also known for its trade fairs. A tradition in the region going back nearly 1000 years, the Frankfurter Messe (Frankfurt Convention Center) is the third largest in the world and hosts numerous notable fairs throughout the year, attracting visitors from all over the world.
Geography and Weather in Frankfurt
Frankfurt sits at the center of a major metropolitan region of Germany that includes a population of nearly 6 million people. The more rural areas on the outskirts of town are still characterized by dense forests. The city’s dominating geographical feature is the Main River, which connects downstream to the Rhine River near the city of Mainz. Bordering the northwestern suburbs of the city are the Taunus Mountains, which consist of a series of relatively low mountains popular with hikers and bikers.
Frankfurt enjoys a relatively warm climate from May to September, with temperatures dipping significantly in winter. However, due to its relatively low elevation, the city does not receive a lot of snow during the colder months.
Getting Around in Frankfurt
Frankfurt is one of the world’s largest transportation centers and boasts an incredibly modern transport network. Most visitors arrive to the city through its international airport (Frankfurt Airport) or main train station (Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof). From here, there are a number of transportation options when it comes to traversing the region.
The Frankfurt metropolitan area contains a modern network of freeways, making car rental a viable option for visitors. Car rental agencies can be found at the airport, major train stations and additional locations around the city. In general, agencies accept American driver’s licenses, allowing Americans to easily rent a vehicle. German driving rules are generally quite similar to those in America and most tourists do not find it difficult to drive in the region.
Public transportation in the form of trains, subways and trams cover a vast majority of the Frankfurt metropolitan region. This includes not only Frankfurt, but other major cities including Wiesbaden, Mainz, Offenbach and Darmstadt.
Main Attractions, Sights and Things to do
Housing a prestigious art collection that spans seven centuries, the Städel stands as one of Frankfurt’s cultural highlights and is a must-visit for tourists in the city. Starting from the Middle Ages, the collection features a who’s who of European masters including Botticelli, Raphael and Monet. Situated on the banks of the Main River, the Städel can be reached by following the city’s U-Bahn to Schweizer Platz Station.
Römerberg Plaza and History Museum
Römerberg Plaza sits at the center of Frankfurt’s Old Town. Rebuilt with painstaking detail following World War II, the pedestrian zone features buildings as they stood in the 1500s. Characterized by crow-stepped gables popular throughout the region at the time, this was the site of Frankfurt’s city hall. Today, the plaza stands as a reminder of Frankfurt’s heritage as one of the most scenic parts of town.
Located within Römerberg Plaza is the city’s Historisches Museum (History Museum). Here, visitors can see original artwork and drawings of Römerberg and the surrounding city as it stood in the Middle Ages. The museum also focuses on the overall history of the region, starting from prehistoric times and ending in the modern day.
Main Tower Observation Deck
Visitors to Frankfurt can get a bird’s eye view of ‘Mainhattan’ by heading to the city’s formidable Main Tower. At over 200 meters high, it is the fourth tallest building in the world. The 56th floor observation deck is a must for first time Frankfurt visitors. On a clear day, all of Frankfurt can be seen along with mountains in the distance. Visit the tower around dusk for the best photo opportunities.
Though not strictly catering to tourists, Frankfurt’s financial district, like Wall Street and the City of London, should not be missed. Exit Taunusanlage Station and look up to view Deutsche Bank’s twin skyscrapers towering above. Take a short walk through the nearby park to view the European Central Bank at Eurotower.
Originally constructed in 1880, Frankfurt’s opera house is one of the city’s most beautiful and regal buildings. Restored following WWII, the venue plays host to over 50 events each year. Internationally renowned musicals, theater shows, classical performers and jazz acts can all be seen at the opera house. Even if there isn’t a show, the in-house restaurant is worth a visit.
Rhineland Day Trips
Frankfurt’s close proximity to the scenic Rhine River Valley makes it a popular starting point for day trips to the region. In the warmer months, tour boats leave central Frankfurt on a regular basis and head towards the Rhine River. Day trips commonly include excellent sightseeing opportunities, along with village and castle excursions.
Shopping in Frankfurt
The Zeil is Frankfurt’s most popular shopping street. The pedestrian thoroughfare is home to a laundry list of major fashion, home goods and cosmetics brands. The street is anchored by the Zeilgalerie, which is an extensive indoor shopping facility specializing in fashion, cafes and restaurants. The roof of the Zeilgalerie is a viewing deck which boasts excellent views of the surrounding skyline. The recently opened MyZeil shopping mall is the latest addition to the street. Featuring 8 floors and unique architecture, MyZeil is quickly earning a reputation as an international shopping destination. In addition to all this, the Zeil hosts farmers markets twice a week where visitors can sample local produce and gourmet foods.
Located in central Frankfurt, the street is serviced by public transport stations Hauptwache and Konstablerwache on either end.
Situated in Frankfurt’s Old Town, Neue Kräme is a pedestrian street known for its high concentration of specialty shops, bakeries and cafes. The street has been a shopping district since the middle ages and is a popular place for both tourists and locals to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
Neue Kräme is situated within walking distance from the Dom/Römer U-Bahn station.
Goethestraße is Frankfurt’s best known luxury shopping street. The pretty, tree-lined road is packed with luxury brands like Giorgio Armani, Tiffany & Co., Hermes, Louis Vuitton, Bvlgari, Versace and more. Even if high-end shopping isn’t on the itinerary, Goethestraße is worth a visit for the people watching alone. The street is located within walking distance from the Hauptwache and Alter Oper U-Bahn Stations.
No great city would be complete without a farmer’s market and Frankfurt is no exception. Though there are numerous regular markets around town, Kleinmarkthalle represents the best of what the city has to offer. Featuring numerous food and flower stalls, the market has been a central food exchange for over 100 years. A foodies dream, there are endless rows of vendors selling locally sourced gourmet meats, cheeses, wines, spices, baked goods and more. Conveniently, the market is centrally located between Hauptwache, Konstablerwache and Dom/Römer Stations.
Eating Out in Frankfurt
Frankfurt’s international prominence has attracted new residents from all across Europe and Asia. As it stands today, the city has a foreign population of around 25%. As a result, the city includes an eclectic mix of restaurants representing virtually every major world cuisine. To find Frankfurt’s largest concentration of cafes and restaurants, head to Hasengasse near the aforementioned Kleinmarkthalle with a lot of Thai, Russian and Indonesian restaurants.
Centrally located in the city’s Sachsenhausen neighborhood, Adolf Wagner is Frankfurt’s best bet when it comes to traditional German cuisine on a budget. Also well known for serving cider, the restaurant has been family owned and operated since 1931, and features a cozy warm interior with long tables and bench seating. Popular dishes at Adolf include local specialties such as rippchen (smoked pork chops) and Frankfurt’s own ‘green sauce’ served with hard boiled eggs or braised beef with home fries.
Situated within a beautifully restored 14th century building along a quiet part of the Main River, Gerbermühle is a mid-range restaurant attached to a hotel. Featuring a healthy mix of Germanic favorites like sauerbraten and wienerschnitzel, the restaurant also serves of number of continental and French-influenced choices to please any palette.
One of Frankfurt’s trendiest restaurants, the Frankfurter Botschaft offers an eclectic mix of high-end cuisine amidst a beautiful dining space with enviable views of the harbor and trendy new condos. Menus range from three to five courses and start at 44 Euros. Dishes include international favorites such as risotto and grilled sea bass, but also include traditional German options like sauerkraut soup.
Nightlife in Frankfurt
Frankfurt’s nightlife is varied and ranges from typical European discotheques, to trendy jazz clubs and even a thriving red light district. As a general rule, raunchier establishments can be found near the city’s major train stations (most notably Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof) as they cater to business travelers. Trendier clubs and lounges can be found along the Main River.
Jazzkeller (Jazz Cellar)
The Jazzkeller has been a Frankfurt mainstay since the 1950s and has played hosts to esteemed musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie and Louis Armstrong throughout the years. Over the decades, the tiny basement club has retained its 50s atmosphere where jazz music can be heard five nights a week. The club’s bar serves cocktails, wine and quality German Beers.
King Kamehameha Club
Named after Hawaii’s former king, the King Kamehameha doesn’t exactly exude the spirit of the islands, but does work well as a trendy lounge and nightclub. State of the art lighting and sound attract some of the world’s best known DJs to this up and coming location. In the summer, Kamehameha is sometimes transformed into a full blown beach club complete with imported sand and volleyball courts.
Off the wall and completely unique, Die Schmiere claims to be the ‘worst theater in the world’. Experimental shows, satire and even plays with no dialogue are all a part of the fun at this quirky theater.
Other Points of Interest
Frankfurter Buchmesse (Frankfurt Book Fair)
Frankfurt holds the largest annual book fair in the world which runs each October. A tradition dating back to at least the 1300s, the book fair attracts visitors from every corner of the globe and features works by international authors.
All major German cities hold Christmas markets from late November through to late December. Frankfurt’s market is located along the Main River at its scenic Römerberg Plaza. At the center of the plaza is a beautifully decorated Christmas tree along with a traditional carousel. Visitors to the market can keep warm with glasses of mulled wine while searching for the perfect Christmas decorations and gifts.
Lufthansa Plans Job Cuts, More COVID Testing to Boost Customer Confidence
With the outlook for international air travel dim due to the coronavirus pandemic, the German airline Lufthansa this week said it expects to operate at 20%-30% of capacity for the remainder of the year and plans to make more staff cuts in addition to the 22,000 full-time positions previously announced.
The move by the airline group comes as a surprise to retired United Airlines pilot and expert, Ross Aimer.
"Lufthansa is one of the strongest airlines in terms of finances and passenger satisfaction, route structure," Aimer told IsaanLive. "So that comes as kind of a surprise. But you can imagine if Lufthansa is facing this horrific dilemma, other airlines that don't have Lufthansa's strengths, can you imagine what happens to them."
One of the unions representing Lufthansa employees criticized plans to cut staff and said it's open for more talks with the airline, which in June received a $10.5 billion (9 billion euro) state bailout.
The airline group says it is spending nearly $584 million in cash every month, and it wants to reduce that amount.
University of Reading Law School's Jorge Guira says it costs that much because it has "to do with the amount of staff, you also have to pay airports to have space in which you can land and you have preferable landing rights, you also have to pay for airplanes."
With fewer people flying, the airline, which also owns Austrian Airlines and Eurowings, said it would put some of its fleet into long-term storage and permanently decommission its seven remaining Airbus A340-600s.
"If you are looking at it pre-COVID, you would see that it's a strong company … the problem is when you have this level of shock … what do you do?" Guira said.
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But cutting costs still leaves at least one dilemma, experts such as Aimer say: What happens after the pandemic when people start traveling again?
"If and when this nightmare is over and passengers have enough confidence coming back, the airlines will find themselves without pilots," he said. "That's one of the hardest things to bring back. … It takes a long time and it's very expensive."
The lack of demand for travel isn't likely to end anytime soon, Guira said.
"There's an expectation in England, for example, that we're in for six hard months. I think most people feel that with the twin-demic, because they expect flu and COVID to rise at the same time," he said.
On Tuesday, global airlines called for airport COVID-19 tests for all departing international passengers to replace the mandatory quarantines, which are blamed for exacerbating the travel slump.
"A systematic testing of all passengers at departure would guarantee that you fly people who are not infected by the virus, or with the risk of being infected which is very, very limited by the sensitivity of the test," said International Air Transport Association head, Alexandre de Juniac.
On Wednesday, Lufthansa announced it plans to expand coronavirus on-the-spot tests for passengers before boarding – a measure it deems essential to reviving global air travel.
EU-China Summit Has Some Germans Rethinking Relations With Beijing
A high-profile virtual summit among Chinese and EU leaders this week has spurred some influential Europeans to rethink their continent’s relationship with Beijing, and especially whether economic considerations have been overemphasized at the expense of human rights.
Monday’s digital get-together — led by Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor and current EU President Angela Merkel — concluded with several vague commitments to “enhance mutual trust, seek mutual benefits on a win-win basis and uphold multilateralism,” according to China’s Xinhua news agency.
But German politicians and news organizations were asking hard questions about Europe’s relationship with China even before the start of the talks, which had been planned pre-pandemic as a gala affair in the German city of Leipzig. The summit also included European Council President Charles Michel and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
“How do we position ourselves towards #China? Is China only a huge market or do we as the EU want to play a role in shaping the world order?” Norbert Röttgen, chairman of the Bundestag foreign affairs committee, asked in a tweet hours before the meeting began.
Today the #EUChinaSummit takes place. At its centre sits the question: How do we position ourselves towards #China? Is China only a huge market or do we as the EU want to play a role in shaping the world order? Most important signal towards China would be: We won't be divided.
— Norbert Röttgen (@n_roettgen) September 14, 2020
“Did Germany get too friendly with China?” headlined a feature story published by Deutsche Welle.
While there is a growing consensus in the United States that the policy of “engagement” with China has largely failed, the question is still intensely debated in Germany. Calls for soul-searching — in some cases even a complete overhaul of status quo — appear to be getting louder.
“There are at least as many German lawmakers, German members of parliament that are strongly supportive of human rights, in particular human rights in China, as you’ll find in the U.S. Congress,” said German Green Party legislator Reinhard Buetikofer, head of the EU’s Delegation for Relations with the People’s Republic of China, in a telephone interview.
Gyde Jensen, representing Germany’s northernmost region in the Bundestag, is just such a lawmaker. Considered a rising star, the 31-year-old chair of the parliament’s human rights committee proudly pins a photo of herself with a Hong Kong activist on her Twitter account and believes Germany should keep Huawei out in its 5G plans.
Seit über eineinhalb Jahren fordert die @fdpbt stärkere Einhaltung von Völkerrecht und #Menschenrechten in #Hongkong.
Gestern habe ich @nathanlawkc getroffen und die Auslandsreise von #WangYi Revue passieren lassen.
Unser Fazit: #CCP hat falsch gepokert – 🇪🇺 steht zusammen. pic.twitter.com/gEhXuBlD4P
— Gyde Jensen (@GydeJ) September 3, 2020
Prominent members of the academic community have lent their voices to the cause.
“German governments, both past and present, have consistently prioritized trade with China over other enlightened German national interests, for example democracy and human rights,” said Andreas Fulda, a German social and political scientist who launched a petition in May calling for a reappraisal.
We need to talk about Germany. Let's start with an inconvenient truth: German governments, both past and present, have consistently prioritized trade with China over other enlightened German national interests, for example democracy and human rights. 1/16https://t.co/NcuRAAXGAH
— Andreas Fulda (@AMFChina) May 26, 2020
For too long, foreign trade promotion has topped Germany’s policy configurations toward China, Fulda said in an email interview. Corporate voices have been over-amplified in public discourse while “for decades hyp[ing] the significance of the Chinese market” in order to justify trade and investment “with an authoritarian China.”
China, for its part, likes to remind Europeans of the economic advantages of the relationship. Ahead of Monday’s meeting, Beijing conspicuously announced that the German auto industry continued to reap profits in China, while business interests elsewhere have been pummeled by the coronavirus pandemic.
“German car giants increased their sales in China, with Mercedes-Benz seeing a 21.6 percent increase in the second quarter compared with the same period last year, even as its sales in Europe dropped by 31.5 percent during the first half of the year,” said a September 9 article published in the Global Times, an arm of Chinese state media.
Germany, for its part, declared China as its top single-country export destination in the second quarter of this year, surpassing the United States.
Some Chinese netizens suggested that Beijing’s increased purchases from Germany were part of a strategic move to secure Berlin’s friendship. Otherwise, one wrote, European nations “would all follow the footsteps of the Czech Senate leader” who recently led a delegation to Taiwan.
Senate President Miloš Vystrčil led an 89-member Czech delegation to Taipei on a trip described as honoring the spirit of Vaclav Havel, the first democratically elected Czech president following the disintegration of the Soviet bloc 30 years ago.
“My view is that if we focus on money, we will lose [both] our values and money,” Vystrčil said prior to embarking on the journey.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen increases Corona Measures
Because the number of corona infections in the Garmisch-Partenkirchen district has exceeded a critical mark, the Corona measures for the community have been increased for seven days. As the district office announced, people who have visited certain bars on Tuesday evening will be asked to report and be tested. On that evening, according to news reports, infected people had visited the bars, but not all contact persons could be traced.
The number of confirmed new infections with the coronavirus exceeded the critical mark of 50 people per 100,000 population within the last seven days. Due to the current situation, the test center in Garmisch-Partenkirchen is also open on Saturday and Sunday from 3 to 8 p.m.
Young people in particular are called upon to be tested, local news reported.
As of today, all restaurants in the Bavarian municipality of Garmisch-Partenkirchen have to close daily at 10 p.m., as it was said. Only a maximum of five people are allowed to meet in public space – this also applies to all restaurants. For private events, the number of participants is limited to a maximum of 50 people in closed rooms or up to 100 people in open air.
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