Discussing, making contacts, getting informed: At the New Year’s reception, WirtschaftsWoche correspondents gave readers an insight into their work. There was plenty to talk about.

Apart from documenting the lives of some of the examples of charismatic leaders, many major topics are currently dominating the everyday lives of journalists around the world: The superpower duel between the USA and China, Europe after Brexit, and the Wirecard scandal, however, are topics that WiWo correspondents are particularly concerned with.

Julian Heißler, Jörn Petring, Matthias Hohensee, Silke Wettach, Sascha Zastiral, Volker ter Haseborg, and Melanie Bergermann gave more than 200 readers an insight into their work via a Zoom call at the “Digital New Year’s Reception 2021”. The evening was moderated by Beat Balzli, editor-in-chief of WirtschaftsWoche.

In addition to combating the pandemic, the Bundestag elections, and climate change, these three mega-trends are programmatic:

The Superpower Duel

So the world continues to revolve around the duel of the superpowers. China is reaching for supremacy and the US wants to keep the lead. The first panel on this exciting initial situation was opened by correspondents Julian Heißler, Jörn Petring, and Matthias Hohensee.

Heißler and Petring have been following the trade dispute between the USA and China for a long time. Heißler in Washington and Petring in Beijing. Even after the US election campaign, China is still a big issue, confirms Heißler. Although Donald Trump and Joe Biden agree on the point of restricting China, the new president-elect would approach it differently: “First Biden freezes the conflict,” then he builds the relationship with other nations – including Europe – and then collectively weakens China. Trump, on the other hand, had rather the opposite effect. Through him, China is seen as an even more dangerous opponent. And: According to Heißler, Trump focused only on trade during his leadership. The new president would bring human rights back into focus.

China, however, sees the US as increasingly weaker, according to Petring. The reason: the corona chaos. After the pandemic broke out in China, the country has been able to get the worst behind it, while the US is losing control. That’s why China will be even more self-confident when it comes to trade agreements again. And the images of the storming of the Capitol would also show the Chinese how weak the US is in their eyes. China wants to become even more independent of the Americans, according to the China correspondent. That’s why investment in technology is currently increasing enormously. “Thanks to Corona, the Chinese will overtake Americans in economic power by 2028.”

Matthias Hohensee also feels the growing influence of China, sitting in the middle of the high-tech center of America. Hohensee has lived in Silicon Valley since 1998. But how long will its myth last? Silicon Valley giants increasingly see Chinese companies such as Tencent, Alibaba, and Baidu as competitors. But: The fragmentation of the Internet still prevents the direct exchange of blows, believes Hohensee. And: About 80 percent of Silicon Valley is against the technology war that Washington is waging against Beijing. “China is simply a huge market that is needed here,” says Hohensee.


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Europe after Brexit

Another topic of the evening was the new Europe: With Brexit, Great Britain left the EU. “The longing for independence was greater than reason,” says Beat Balzli. In Brussels, correspondent Silke Wettach deals with Brexit. “I’m really happy that these lengthy and tough negotiations are finally over,” she says. When the correspondent came to Brussels in 2002, the British were still highly praised. That changed quickly.

Nevertheless, Germany will miss the liberal, economic thinking of Great Britain very much believes WiWo-Text boss Dieter Schnaas. The pain of separation is greatest in Germany, Austria, and the Scandinavian countries.

But even in Great Britain, there is no relief over the exit from the EU. “At the moment, it’s all about Corona,” says England correspondent Sascha Zastiral. Mainly due to the inaction of the British government, an even more dangerous corona mutation has spread rapidly there. For weeks, the hospitals would already reach their capacity limits.

So far, due to the corona issue, no one is thinking about what will happen to the population in the coming weeks as a result of Brexit. But this is still noticeable. For example, truck traffic has fallen by 80 percent, explains Zastiral. He warns that the barriers in trade will have protracted consequences.

The Wirecard scandal

For investigative reporter Melanie Bergermann and special correspondent Volker ter Haseborg, the Wirecard scandal provided enough material for a whole series of investigative articles in WirtschaftsWoche – and even their own book. They were happy to share their background knowledge and research with readers at the New Year’s reception.

Bergermann had already expressed doubts about the plausibility of the balance sheets of the now-insolvent payment service provider in 2015. They continued to grow. The breakthrough came with a research trip from ter Haseborg to Dubai. Because there the important business partner Al Alam should ensure huge sales at Wirecard. Allegedly. Because the journalist discovered little more than a locked door. “From then on, I was absolutely sure that Wirecard was cheating,” says Bergermann.

Following the thematic rounds, there was a deeper insight into the work of the business journalists: In various digital rooms, the participants were able to clarify questions with the editor-in-chief and the correspondents in a smaller circle.

It quickly became clear that there is no shortage of topics in 2021. New stories await every day, which the journalists will write about for WirtschaftsWoche.