German-Chinese relations are at a turning point

German-Chinese trade relations

German and Chinese flag: “asymmetry” in bilateral relations.

(Photo: dpa)

They are words that leave nothing to be desired in terms of clarity: There is talk of an “asymmetry” in the relationship between China and Germany and that “numerous countries and companies” have already had the experience that Beijing “considers the Chinese market as a political means of pressure”. The draft of Germany’s long-awaited new China strategy is here – and it represents a turning point.

The paper is an interim status that was compiled by the Federal Foreign Office on the basis of supplies from other departments – no more and no less. It is very unlikely that the strategy will be accepted by the Federal Chancellery in this form. You can clearly see the critical handwriting of the Foreign Ministry, which can be traced back not only to Minister Annalena Baerbock, but also to her officials who are very knowledgeable and experienced in China.

>>Read here: Stress tests for companies, more EU votes – that’s in the draft of the new German China strategy

Scholz and Baerbock now largely agree on the analysis of bilateral relations, but the conclusions differ. Scholz also repeatedly emphasizes that China has changed. His sentence “If China changes, our dealings with China must also change” can be found almost exactly in the draft strategy. Under this premise, Scholz is also in favor of diversification. But, and that’s where he differs from Baerbock – not at any price. Diversify yes, but by no means give up on China – that is the Chancellor’s credo. So it is not very likely that all the specific new rules from the paper for the German economy will be implemented in China.

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But even if some things are deleted from the draft in the coming months – if some points make it into the finished strategy or into the national security strategy, it is a change of direction that the German economy has to adjust to. The more realistic assessment of China sends the signal that there can be no business as usual with a regime that is constantly expanding its influence in German companies, threatens a military escalation of the Taiwan conflict on the international stage and systematically violates human rights.

While corporations like BASF are warning against taking a confrontational course with Beijing, the turning point is actually a relief for some smaller companies. Medium-sized companies have long struggled with the fact that their Chinese competitors are favored by the Beijing regime, while they themselves receive little support from the federal government out of consideration for Beijing.

More: Eleven hours in Beijing – why the Chancellor’s trip was sobering

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