China says German robot maker deal should not be politicized

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China said on Thursday the purchase of German industrial robot maker Kuka by Chinese home appliance maker Midea Group Co Ltd should not be politicized as it is simply a commercial deal.

Kuka is the latest and biggest German industrial technology group to be targeted by a Chinese buyer as the world’s second-largest economy makes the transition from a low-cost manufacturer into a high-tech industrial hub.

German government sources have said Berlin would examine how critical Kuka’s technology is for the digitization of industry, an economic priority for Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government.

Germany’s economy minister Sigmar Gabriel said this week German was trying to coordinate an alternative offer for Kuka.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said while she did not know anything about the deal, in principle the Chinese government supported and encouraged “win-win” cooperation between companies in accordance with market principles.

“All countries’ governments have a responsibility to provide a good environment and conditions for that kind of win-win, mutually beneficial cooperation,” she told a daily news briefing.

“Any normal commercial activity should not perhaps be politicized.”

Despite its concern about losing German technology to China, the ruling coalition of Merkel’s conservatives and Gabriel’s Social Democrats usually does not like to meddle in takeovers.

Merkel is expected to visit Beijing later this month.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; editing by Robert Birsel)