Without being able to give specific figures, I can only report from my own experience.
For the general population I would say there are more Japanese interested.Increasingly, however, there are also people who are interested in modern China. Especially in certain groups (people in trade and small and medium-sized enterprises, tourism workers, academics, politicians) I would even claim that those interested in China now even predominate.
Why this is the case can be determined in a few points:
- Japan has been a developed country (about the timeline of the (Western) German economy) for much longer and has therefore had a long time to develop more influence in the world.
- Japan and Germany have very similar industrial profiles and therefore have close economic cooperation.
- Newer Japanese cultural exports are longer and much better known than those from China.
Sushi, animes/mangas, computer games, J-pop, architecture, language and co. are “double-exported” to Germany in some respects. Directly from Japan and rather indirectly from the USA. If you look at America, you will soon find that Japanese things are very much to be found there in everyday life. Sushi with all its (partly American) variations is a standard repertoi in many parts of the kitchen of America, not only in the lower segment but also in the luxury class. Anime and computer games from Japan have almost reached a cult status there, often things have gone through the US market. In Germany, almost everyone grew up with the Nintendo world, the Playstation and many other things from Japan.
But apart from that, it is also true: as a communist (if only nominally) and autocratic country, it does not necessarily always arouse the most positive impressions in the German general population.
Hence not quite as many sinophils in everyday life. In contrast to the German economy and politics, which now have more and more people who want to know China.
- The proportion of Germans who buy a Chinese smartphone.
Huawei has about 12% of the German sales market, and the trend is increasing. China is perceived by more and more people in everyday life as a highly technological country, which has a positive effect on people’s interest.
Chinese tourists are also now a norm in Germany. Both not only provide the opportunity for more personal exchange, but also give an impulse for people to perhaps deal with Chinese things.
Political decisions there are increasingly Asian and less Atlantic, which is already being seen in the news. There are more Asian-Americans (including many with Chinese roots) who come to Europe and exchange ideas with local people, and many Germans who go abroad may come up with new perspectives about the people living there. Chinese again.