Contradictory signals from China to Germany: While Finance Minister Christian Lindner was uninvited by the Chinese government at short notice, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has announced a spontaneous visit from Beijing. As was announced on Monday, Foreign Minister Qin Gang is coming to Berlin on Tuesday, a few weeks before the German-Chinese government consultations. FDP boss Lindner, on the other hand, had to spontaneously cancel his meeting with Chinese Finance Minister Liu Kun, which was scheduled for Wednesday.
The Chinese Ministry of Finance asked at the weekend to postpone the talks between the two ministers planned for May 10 due to scheduling reasons, the Federal Ministry of Finance said. The visit was originally intended to prepare government consultations and a high-level financial dialogue.
High-level financial dialogue was planned
Lindner wanted to connect the talks in China with a meeting of the G7 finance ministers in Japan. According to the Ministry of Finance, the Chinese side offered an alternative date for the return journey from Japan. "The minister could not be available for such an extraordinarily short-term postponement," said Berlin. The meeting in Beijing is said to be rescheduled at a later date.
It is unclear whether the cancellation is also related to China's relationship with Lindner and its FDP. Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger traveled to Taiwan in March, causing displeasure in Beijing. Lindner himself recently criticized China's position on the Russian war against Ukraine and also advocated openly addressing human rights issues.
That's what the Treasury says
"It is speculation whether the rejection has anything to do with the FDP's position that Germany must appear self-confident towards Beijing," the Ministry of Finance said on Monday. In any case, the position will not change as a result of the postponement.
The cancellation should remind Lindner of his trip to Asia in the summer of 2019. At that time he had first met with opposition figures in Hong Kong. After that, the Chinese side also canceled appointments in Beijing at short notice for scheduling reasons. In a frosty conversation, he was refused a handshake, Lindner later reported. "If norms of politeness are no longer valued, we can also speak plain language," he told the "Süddeutsche Zeitung". Accordingly, there was an open exchange.
Political exchange had increased again
The political exchange between Beijing and Berlin had actually increased noticeably after the end of the pandemic. In mid-April, Baerbock (Greens) made her first visit to China and met the new Chinese foreign minister. Again, clear differences became apparent. Baerbock sees the People's Republic as a system rival on the one hand, but also as a partner and competitor on the other.
The government consultations scheduled for June 20 are expected to bring together senior government officials from both sides. The Federal Government organizes such talks with several close or strategically important partners such as France, Japan, India, Brazil and Israel. The last German-Chinese intergovernmental consultations took place in 2021 - because of the corona pandemic at the time as a video conference and overshadowed by political tensions.