Hamburg Summit: China meets Europe

Hamburg Summit:
China meets Europe
Status active
Genre international trade conference
Frequency bi-annually
Location(s) Hamburg, Germany
Inaugurated 2004 (2004)
Founder Helmut Schmidt
Participants 600
Area  People's Republic of China
 European Union
Organised by Hamburg Chamber of Commerce
Venue of the conference: the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce

The Hamburg Summit: China meets Europe is a biennial high-level conference on Sino-European economic relations held in Hamburg. The Hamburg Chamber of Commerce initiated the first "Hamburg Summit" in 2004 to set up a platform for an open dialogue between Europe and China and to improve the economic relations.


In discussions between the former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, mayors of Hamburg and the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce Commerce the idea was born to organise a conference in Hamburg to intensify the economic and political dialogue between Europe and China and improve the economic relationship. Hamburg as venue for the conference was a consequential choice because of the strong economic relations between the hanseatic city and the People's Republic of China. With more than 520 companies from China Hamburg is one of Europe's most important locations for Chinese companies. In addition to port-oriented companies (COSCO, China Shipping, Sinotrans) Hamburg also hosts European headquarters of Chinese industrial companies (Baosteel, Sinosteel) or Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries (ZPMC). With the Bank of China and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the two largest Chinese banks are also represented in Hamburg. On the other side over 900 Hamburg companies maintain business relations with China. For Northern, Central and Eastern Europe Hamburg has a central role in business with China, as Hamburg is the transit station for most of the imports from China and a distribution center for onward transport to the new EU accession countries, but also to Russia and Western and Southern Europe. Indeed, about one third of the container traffic in the port of Hamburg is related to China.

In the presence of former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt over 350 decision makers from politics, industry and academia discussed the current state of Sino-European relations during the first “Hamburg Summit”. The Chinese guest of honour was then Deputy Prime Minister Zeng Peiyan.

Already at the second "Hamburg Summit" Wen Jiabao, the Prime Minister of the People's Republic of China, was present as guest of honour, who stressed the importance of the conference. Furthermore, Singapore's founding father Lee Kuan Yew, the former German chancellors Helmut Kohl and Helmut Schmidt took part.

The third "Hamburg Summit" took place after the Sino-German diplomatic irritations caused by a meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Dalai Lama in September 2007. In fall 2008 the "Hamburg Summit" was the occasion for the first visit of a senior Chinese politician in Germany after the crisis. Guests of honour in 2008 were Frank-Walter Steinmeier, then German Foreign Minister, and Vice-Chancellor, Zhang Dejiang, Deputy Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of China, and then EU Commissioner László Kovács

Over 400 participants attended the fourth "Hamburg Summit” which took place under the impression of the aftermath of the economic and financial crises and its impact the Sino-European economic relations. As Chinese guest of honour the “Hamburg Summit” welcomed the Secretary General of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, Ma Kai,. Additional guests of honour were the German Foreign Minister and former Vice Chancellor Dr. Guido Westerwelle, as well as the Vice President of the European Commission and Commissioner for Competition, Joaquin Almunia.

The fifth “Hamburg Summit” was held from 28 to 30 November 2012 at the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce. At the opening of the fifth “Hamburg Summit: China meets Europe”, the Chinese Minister of Science Wan Gang, Germany’s then Research Minister Annette Schavan and Professor Georgios Papastamkos, Vice President of the European Parliament, spoke about their views of European-Chinese economic relations. The state of the global economy, trade relations between the EU and China, the liberalisation of the Chinese currency, smart cities, safeguarding raw materials and strategies for Europe and China in a multipolar world were dealt with in six panel discussions. However, all speeches and discussions focused on the effects of the change of leadership in China and the sovereign debt crisis in Europe. The highlight for many participants was the discussion between former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt and former US Secretary of State Dr Henry Kissinger, on the role of China, Europe and the US in the global power structure. Some 440 participants from 21 nations and 200 members of the press registered for the “Hamburg Summit” in 2012.

The sixth “Hamburg Summit” took place on October 10 and 11, 2014 at the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce. As guests of honour, Li Keqiang, Prime Minister of the People´s Republic of China, Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament, Dr Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Federal Republic of Germany, and Karel De Gucht, then EU Commissioner for Trade attended the conference. In his speech, Premier Li Keqiang stressed the importance of Europe as a partner for Chinas reform programme and gave important impulses for the bilateral cooperation between China and Europe in the future. Besides the high-ranking guests of honour, over 600 international participants attended the sixth “Hamburg Summit”.

The seventh "Hamburg Summit" will take place on November 23 and 24, 2016 at the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce. [1]


The "Hamburg Summit" brings together leaders from politics, business and academics, who will discuss current issues and challenges for the Sino-European economic dialogue. Especially in times of the global economic crisis that erupted immediately after the "Hamburg Summit" in 2008 or the current sovereign debt crisis forums such as the "Hamburg Summit" are important to maintain the dialogue with China on a politically neutral level or even to intensify.

Recurring themes in the "Hamburg Summit" are the roles of China and Europe in the global economy, trade relations between China and the EU, bilateral investments between the EU and China the energy and raw material supply, sustainability issues and environmental protection. It is not just about the big theoretical questions but also about concrete solutions such as "Smart City" concepts.

Two prizes are awarded as part of the “Hamburg Summit” – the China-Europe Friendship Award, which in 2012 went to the Chairman of the German Asia-Pacific Business Association and Co-CEO of Deutsche Bank AG, Jürgen Fitschen. In 2014 the award went to the long-term co-host and conference partner, the China Federation of Industrial Economics (CFIE). The second award is the China-Europe Sustainability Award. The latter went in 2012 to the State Grid Corporation of China, which mainly operates in the area of smart grids.

Since 2004 the Hamburg Chamber of Commerce closely cooperates with the China Federation of Industrial Economics (CFIE), which acts as co-host, bringing high-level business delegations to Hamburg. Since 2010 a close cooperation also exists with the China Association of Trade in Services (CATIS).

Previous speakers

Representatives of the People's Republic of China

Representatives of the European Union

Representatives of the German government

Representatives of other governments

Business representatives

Representatives of other institutions


  1. Up-to-date information can be found on the conference website.

External links

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