Withdrawal from China cuts us off

Dthe intensity of the public discussion surrounding Chancellor Scholz’s trip to China has shown how important it is for Germany to shape German-Chinese relations. This exchange is good because it ensures that a wide range of perspectives flows into the creation of the German government’s new China strategy.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Germany and China. During this time, bilateral relations were characterized by ever closer cooperation between the two countries, to the benefit of both parties. China has achieved tremendous growth, lifted 800 million people out of poverty into a modern middle class and is now the world’s second largest economy. Germany was able to contribute to this development through technological strength, exports and investment. Above all, however, Germany has developed into a key player in the global economy, has grown strongly and today has one of the highest levels of prosperity in the world.

Our locations in China, as well as those around the world, contribute significantly to our competitiveness. They allow us to take advantage of the many technological developments in other countries. At the same time, they are ambassadors for our values ​​and culture and show how German companies worldwide treat employees, the environment and supply chains responsibly.

“We secure jobs”

Of all markets, China has become the world’s second largest and most dynamic over the past 50 years. Therefore, our presence there is particularly important for the sake of German economic strength. Especially today, the enormous potential of the Chinese market allows us to scale up faster to higher standards, so that we can then operate more successfully in other markets. In this way, we secure jobs and livelihoods for many people in Germany.

Our global production, research and development sites help us promote the major social projects that are important to us in Germany and Europe: climate protection, energy transition, expansion of infrastructure, progress in digitization, education and training and thus innovation, but also the improvement of our health system in an aging society and finally the expansion of our defense.

Tensions with Taiwan ‘must be resolved peacefully’

But we must also realize that the relationship between the two countries has changed a lot in recent years. In light of its development, China is increasingly asserting its position as a world power. This is illustrated by the worrying tensions in the Taiwan Strait, which must be resolved peacefully. And the human rights situation in Xinjiang province does not correspond to our values.

It is therefore correct that Germany now defines its relationship with China in a more differentiated way – along the three dimensions of competition, cooperation and systemic rivalry. Bringing this into balance going forward is a difficult but necessary task. As challenging as it is to achieve this balance, we stand behind it. But in the current public discussion, we perceive an almost exclusive emphasis on the rivalry of the systems – in words and concrete measures.

“We need to diversify risks”

For our companies, competition is part of everyday life. That’s why we know: In the competition, you must score with your own strengths. And the stronger we are, the stronger we can defend our position on China. So the work starts at home. First, we need to diversify risks such as semiconductors, batteries, raw materials and rare earths. It is important to get an overview of our dependencies and then prioritize the areas where these dependencies need to be reduced. In this way, we will approach both new and existing partners – for example in Latin America, Africa and Asia. And we must massively increase German and European competitiveness. It is about nothing less than increasing the attractiveness of the EU’s internal market.

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