Sun Yu, a 28-year-old lawyer in the eastern city of Jinan, drives a Volkswagen Golf and writes with a Lamy. When traveling, she takes pictures with a Canon, but only because she could not afford a Leica.[Special coverage]
For Zheng He, her richer cousin-in-law in the eastern city of Hefei, the Audi Q3 ultimately became the accountant's vehicle of choice.
Among China's urban middle class, German brands are recognized as high quality and good value. It is a reputation that has paid off well, with China now German's largest trading partner.
"China's rise to become Germany's most important trade partner in the past year is mainly based on the strong development of Germany's exports to China in the third and fourth quarters," said Alexandra Voss, leader of a delegation of German industry and commerce to Beijing, in a written interview with Xinhua.
"Economic relations between China and Germany have been highly successful over the past 40 years. We estimate that around 5,200 German companies are currently operating in China.... We also see a rapidly increasing number of Chinese enterprises investing in Germany," said Voss.
With one-third of China-EU trade coming from Germany, the country's economic ties to China dwarf those of its European counterparts. Led by the big carmakers, German firms move into China faster and more aggressively than many of their rivals.
In mid-May, BMW Brilliance Automotive opened an assembly plant in northeast China, one of the largest smart production bases of the BMW group.
Beyond the scale of production, the plant, built upon Germany Industry 4.0 concept, incorporates VR, augmented manufacturing and laser scanning.
Increased Chinese competition is "not only synonymous with growing competition but also opening new opportunities of cooperation", said Voss, adding that, "German high-tech enterprises in the fields of automatization and digital production can help shape the necessary processes in order to manage the migration from the labor intense to automated manufacturing."
Technology and manufacturing are among a number of common interests of the two countries.
For example, Sino-German Ecopark in the eastern port city of Qingdao focuses on attracting German enterprises to help Chinese companies upgrade their technology.
"The German economy stands for open markets and free trade. Given the rise of protectionism in a number of large economies it's of the utmost importance to engage in supporting open structures with fair and transparent legal framework to further develop international trade," said Voss.
In face of global uncertainties, anti-globalization sentiment and rising protectionism in the world, China and Germany should continue to promote trade liberalization and investment facilitation and safeguard the regulations of the World Trade Organization, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said during talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.