Germany has issued a policy for its relations with China.
The 64-page strategy which was approved by Chancellor OIaf Scholz’s Cabinet builds on Germany’s first national security strategy, issued a month ago.
Despite concerns over its growing assertiveness and refusal to criticize the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Germany, Europe’s biggest economy and European Union’s most populous member, is keen on maintaining good ties with China, its biggest single trading partner in recent years.
German Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock stressed that “for Germany, China remains a partner, competitor and systemic rival, but the aspect of systemic rivalry has in recent years increasingly come to the fore.”
“Anyone who listens to China knows with what self-confidence it will decisively influence the development of our world — more repressive at home and more offensive abroad.
“China has changed and so our China policy must change too.”Annalena Baerbock
It noted that “whereas China’s dependencies on Europe are constantly declining, Germany’s dependencies on China have taken on greater significance in recent years.”
“It is not our intention to impede China’s economic progress and development,” the policy read. “At the same time, de-risking is urgently needed. However, we are not pursuing a decoupling of our economies,” it added.
German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz iterated this stance. In a tweet after unveiling the new strategy, Scholz noted, “Our aim is not to decouple (from Beijing). But we want to reduce critical dependencies in future.”
Moreover, German administration stated in its new policy that it expects companies “to keep a close eye on relevant China-related developments, data and risks.”
It added that “we will hold confidential discussions with companies that are particularly exposed to China regarding their China-related risk analyses with a view to identifying concentration risks in good time.”
Additionally, Baerbock said that Germany must focus more strongly on its economic security.
“Companies that make themselves dependent to a large extent on the Chinese market will in the future have to carry the financial risk more heavily themselves,” she said.
Germany is determined not to repeat mistakes it made before the invasion of Ukraine with Russia, on which it formerly relied for more than half of its natural gas supplies. Berlin raced last year to end that dependency, while Russia eventually shut off supplies.
“We simply can’t afford to do a second time what we had to do as a result of the Russian war of aggression, namely spending over 200 billion euros ($222 billion) across the whole of society to free ourselves from a dependency.”Annalena Baerbock
Germany To Expand Relations With Taiwan
Furthermore, the new strategy made clear that Germany will not be deterred from doing business with self-governed Taiwan, which Beijing considers a breakaway province.
“Germany has close and good relations with Taiwan in many areas and wants to expand them,” it said.
“The status quo of the Taiwan Strait may only be changed by peaceful means and mutual consent,” it said. “Military escalation would also affect German and European interests.”
It also said that “we take decisive action to counter all analog and digital espionage and sabotage activities by Chinese intelligence services and state-controlled groups, whether these activities be in or directed against Germany.”
Nonetheless, the policy emphasized Berlin’s desire to cooperate with Beijing on climate change issues. “It will not be possible to overcome the climate crisis without China,” the government’s strategy said.
“Its actions are decisive for the preservation of biological diversity and the environment,” it noted.