This article focuses on the interplay between the political authorities and economic actors in the Federal Republic of Germany in the process of establishing relations with the People's Republic of China after 1949. Within this framework, the article will assess the role played by the Ost-Ausschuss der Deutschen Wirtschaft (Eastern Committee of German Economy), a semi-official organization recognized by the West German government. Both the ability of German economic actors and China's urgent need for economic contact with the West caused German-Chinese trade relations to circumvent the strict non-recognition policy followed by the West German government. The article also argues that, while economic relations heralded official recognition of the People's Republic of China by other Western European countries, in the case of the Federal Republic of Germany a division between the two spheres was finally accepted by the major actors involved, and ended only after the change of attitude imparted by the Nixon presidency in the United States during the early 1970s.
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