“Bilateral relations may be at risk” warning from China’s ambassador to Berlin

China’s ambassador to Berlin, Wu Ken, stated that Germany’s new China strategy reminds of the Cold War era and that it may put the relations between the two countries at risk.

While the government in Germany is working to change the Chinese strategy economically, Wu Ken, the Chinese Ambassador to Berlin, warned that Germany’s new strategy against Beijing reflects the Cold War mentality and may jeopardize the relations between the two countries.

While China has been on the record as Germany’s largest trading partner for the last 6 years, the German public has been discussing the economic dependence on China after the power dependence on Russia resulted in an “energy crisis”.

The German Ministry of Economy and Climate Defense is working to change the country’s economic strategy in China. In Germany, the government is working on a new trade policy with China to reduce dependency on China’s raw materials, batteries and semiconductors.

In the 100-page draft report prepared by the ministry staff, attention is drawn to the economic dependence in the German-Chinese relations, and the reduction of dependence on China and the expansion of supply routes are included.

In an interview with the German newspaper Handelsblatt, Wu Ken, the Chinese Ambassador to Berlin, stated that Germany’s more drastic strategy change plan against China reflects a “Cold War” mentality that could endanger cooperation in the middle of the world’s second and fourth largest economies.

Stating that the change in strategy, which was reflected in the German media, was “very worrying”, Wu emphasized that it would not serve the common interests of Germany and China.

Wu said that Germany’s draft report exaggerated the competition and challenges in the middle of Berlin and Beijing in a way that has nothing to do with reality. Moreover, at least according to the draft, Germany wants to coordinate its Chinese policy more closely with its future allies, such as the United States, who think of an example. “This shows that the German government has lost its independence and has instead followed the US entirely in its Chinese policy woes,” he said.

Wu, the Chinese Ambassador to Berlin, on the issue of information sharing and tension test plan on German companies’ investments in China in Germany’s new China strategy, said, “In doing this, the German government is ultimately contradicting itself. “To me, it reflects the Cold War mentality in a dubious form,” he said.

Germany-China relations

While Western countries, especially the USA, Canada and Australia, started to take a tougher stance against China, which is expanding its economy and influence, it is observed that Germany does not approach this by keeping its commercial connections ahead of politics.

China’s increasing activity in Europe through investments and acquisitions in critical sectors such as infrastructure and technology, including European Union (EU) countries, has been a matter of public debate for a long time.

The fact that the economic links of Germany, which has the largest economy in Europe, with China play a decisive role on political interests, also causes criticism in the continent.

Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited China 12 times during her 16-year reign. The government prioritized economic interests over human rights. While the Merkel era was frequently criticized by the opponents of Chinese politics, it is noteworthy that Prime Minister Olaf Scholz, with an approach similar to Merkel, continued economic cooperation with China, taking into account the commercial stability.

Germany is among the countries that benefit most from China’s opening up to the world.

While the EU sees China as a negotiating partner for the union as well as an economic and systemic competitor, Germany, which has an export-laden economy, has been one of the countries that benefited most from China’s opening up to the global economy for years.

German cars and machinery are in heavy demand in China. While exports to China supported Germany’s longest post-World War II economic growth in the last 10 years, China became Germany’s largest trading partner in 2016.

Germany’s dependence on China draws attention in foreign trade, supply chains or the big market. Germany seems to have a “strong import dependency” on China, even for raw materials such as lithium batteries and rare earth elements, which are increasingly valuable for electric cars.

Trade volume between Germany and China exceeded 245 billion euros last year

The Covid-19 quarantine in Shanghai, which has significantly disrupted supply chains around the world in recent months, has also revealed how dependent the German economy is on primary and secondary products from China.

According to the information of the German Foreign Trade Chamber (AHK), approximately 5 thousand German companies operate in China. 1.1 million jobs in Germany depend on trade with China.

The Chinese market is of great importance for German companies, especially German car manufacturers, both in terms of sales and growth. German companies develop and test the latest technologies in China for the global market.

While China has been Germany’s largest trading partner for the last 6 years, the trade volume between the two countries exceeded 245 billion euros ($ 246 billion) last year.

For these reasons, the German business world, emphasizing the importance of China for the German economy, also warns that “they cannot do without China”.