Coalition agrees: "We are not naive": Baerbock presents the federal government's new China strategy

For the first time, the federal government has issued comprehensive guidelines for dealing with the People's Republic of China.

Coalition agrees: "We are not naive": Baerbock presents the federal government's new China strategy

For the first time, the federal government has issued comprehensive guidelines for dealing with the People's Republic of China. After months of debates within the coalition, the federal cabinet decided on a China strategy on Thursday: This is intended to show a way in which Germany can further expand its indispensable economic and political cooperation with the Asian superpower without endangering its own values ​​and interests.

"The China strategy gives our relations a new framework," wrote Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) on Twitter. "The aim is not to disconnect us," he added. However, Germany wants to "avoid critical dependencies in future" in trade relations. With this strategy, Germany is reacting to a China "that is changing and taking a more offensive stance."

The strategy does not have the force of law, but should serve as a guide for future relations with Beijing. China remains a "partner, competitor and systemic rival" for Germany, said Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) - and added: "The aspect of systemic rivals has come more and more to the fore in recent years." The strategy should show "that we are realistic, but not naive".

The 61-page paper addresses contentious issues such as human rights, the rule of law and fair competition. As expressly negative, the document emphasizes that China's foreign policy is increasingly asserting its claim to be a world power; that it makes it more difficult for foreign companies to access the Chinese market in terms of trade policy; and that in domestic politics it is increasingly repressive towards its own people.

"More repressive internally, more offensive externally" – this is how Baerbock characterized the current development of the People's Republic in a speech to the Merics Institute in Berlin, which specializes in China studies.

"We want to work with China," said Baerbock - "because we need China, but China also needs us in Europe." The strategy should show guidelines for cooperation with the difficult partner China, "can without our free-democratic basic order, without endangering our prosperity and our partnership with other countries in this world".

One of the central points of the strategy is "de-risking," said Baerbock - in other words, the effort to reduce one-sided economic dependencies on China and thus reduce the risk for Germany. The economy should be made more responsible with the new strategy. Those companies "that make themselves highly dependent on the Chinese market" would have to "in future increasingly bear the financial risk themselves," said Baerbock.

Another goal of the strategy is the expansion of "raw material partnerships" outside of China - for example in Africa, Latin America or the Indo-Pacific, said Baerbock.

The traffic light parties SPD, Greens and FDP had already agreed to develop the China strategy in their coalition agreement in autumn 2021. This is necessary "in order to be able to realize our values ​​and interests in the systemic rivalry with China," says the contract.

The strategy was developed with the involvement of all federal ministries, the Federal Chancellery and other stakeholders. In the past few months, differences within the coalition have become clear: Baerbock considers a sometimes sharp tone to be appropriate in relation to China - for example because of the human rights situation in the People's Republic. However, the coalition partners did not want to offend China.

The document that has now been presented reflects the common position of the federal government, stressed Baerbock. It is the "result of countless discussions with colleagues in the government, in the Bundestag, in municipalities, with business, science, non-governmental organizations and our international partners".

NEXT NEWS