A complex visit: Annalena Baerbock on a diplomatic mission in China: "Partner, competitor or systemic rival"?

On her first visit to China, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock emphasized the goal of exploring opportunities for future cooperation and reducing the dangers of one-sided dependency.

A complex visit: Annalena Baerbock on a diplomatic mission in China: "Partner, competitor or systemic rival"?

On her first visit to China, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock emphasized the goal of exploring opportunities for future cooperation and reducing the dangers of one-sided dependency. "For our country, a lot depends on whether we succeed in properly balancing our future relationship with China," said the Green politician before leaving for her first visit to China. At the top of her agenda is the interest in "ending the war on our European doorstep in Ukraine as quickly, permanently and fairly as possible".

The visit is overshadowed by a new missile test by North Korea on Thursday morning, China's military maneuvers to intimidate democratic Taiwan and the long prison sentences of 12 and 14 years for two of China's most well-known civil rights activists, Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi. According to the South Korean General Staff, the North Korean missile flew towards the open sea with a range of possibly thousands of kilometers. North Korea has been banned from testing ballistic missiles that can be armed with nuclear warheads by UN decisions.

In view of Beijing's support for Russian President Vladimir Putin, Baerbock's trip is likely to be one of the most diplomatically difficult missions of her term of office to date. As a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, China bears a special responsibility for world peace, stressed Baerbock. What role China takes with its influence on Russia "will have consequences for all of Europe and our relationship with China," she said.

"Partner, competitor, systemic rival - that is the compass of European China policy. The direction in which the needle will swing in the future also depends on which path China chooses," said Baerbock. She wants to explore opportunities for more cooperation in promoting civil society, climate protection and in future-oriented sectors such as renewable energies. It is clear: "We have no interest in economic decoupling - this would be difficult in a globalized world anyway." However, the risks of one-sided dependencies must be taken into account and reduced more systematically, "in the sense of de-risking".

This also applies "in view of the horror scenario of a military escalation in the Taiwan Strait, through which 50 percent of world trade flows every day," said Baerbock. She will therefore also underline the common European conviction that a unilateral change in the status quo in the Taiwan Strait straits and even more a military escalation would be unacceptable. Of course, she also wants to talk about the protection of universal human rights in China, said the minister. This must be part of fair competitive conditions.

Baerbock wanted to start her visit on Thursday in the port city of Tianjin. In the city southeast of the capital Beijing, she wants to attend classes at a Pasch partner school and visit a German company that produces wind turbines. According to the initiative, the Pasch project "Schools: Partners for the Future" founded by the Federal Foreign Office in 2008 links more than 2,000 schools worldwide where German is particularly important. The central political talks are scheduled for Friday in Beijing.

After the controversial statements by French President Emmanuel Macron on the conflict over Taiwan, the CDU foreign politician Norbert Röttgen appealed to Baerbock to make a commitment from Germany to China for an unrestricted European course. "The German foreign minister must line up the federal government with this European line without ifs and buts. If there are any doubts about this, she would further increase the damage that Macron has done," said Röttgen of the "Rheinische Post" and the Bonn "General-anzeiger". " (Thursday).

In interview statements after his visit to China last week, Macron called on Europe to take a more independent course on the Taiwan issue and emphasized that Europe should keep its distance from both China and the United States.

The representative of Taiwan in Germany, Shieh Jhy-Wey, told the "Tagesspiegel" (Thursday): "Especially before Mr. Macron's recent statements, I hope that Ms. Baerbock, who is known as an advocate of liberal values, will speak plainly and underline her in Beijing that Germany rejects any attempt by China to resolve the Taiwan issue by force." The example of the Ukraine shows that only transatlantic unity is successful. "If this alliance succeeds with Taiwan as well, China will know that it has no chance of suppressing us militarily."

CSU regional group leader Alexander Dobrindt demanded a clear strategy from Baerbock towards Beijing. "I would have expected Ms. Baerbock to present her long-awaited China strategy before she travels to Beijing," said the chairman of the CSU deputies in the Bundestag of the German Press Agency in Berlin. "Our companies must finally know which China policy the traffic light is pursuing, how it wants to strengthen our sovereignty and reduce strategic dependencies." Baerbock still owes these answers.

The deputy head of the German-Chinese parliamentary group in the Bundestag, Gyde Jensen (FDP), called on Baerbock to speak clearly. "Annalena Baerbock has shown that she doesn't walk quietly so as not to scare anyone," Jensen told the editorial network Germany (RND/Thursday). "It should also take a clear position in China and demand compliance with human rights, but also with international treaties."

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