And now China. The United States has been issuing very fundamental warnings for a long time, Foreign Minister Antony Blinken has just started, and Olaf Scholz also says: We cannot look the other way. What do we see? Crude capitalism as a communist grimace. This topic is there with power. Also in Germany. The great self-assurance in the case of Russia is far from enough. Don’t tell anyone world politics can’t get any more complicated.
Now it’s about people and powers and the relationship to autocrats, tyrants in general. And here China is at the forefront. Also at the forefront in trade with Germany, which makes this case so precarious again. But dodging was yesterday.
China: great power, superpower. Well over a billion people. Germany’s most important trading partner. Eight percent of all German exports go to the People’s Republic. More than 5000 German companies are on the move in China, which secures a million jobs in this country. modernity, dearly bought; Prosperity bought by looking the other way. If that reminds you of Russia, this dependency – wrong. it’s bigger
China is both present and future everywhere, with battery cells for electric cars, computer chips, even in rapid corona tests. The darker side, however, has become unmistakable. If you don’t want to lose face, you can’t deny it: The disturbing photos of internment camps for Uyghurs – they are only a first glimpse. The publications refute all soothing propaganda by the Chinese government.
No one is so fast in growth and large-scale projects, but probably no one is so hard, so systematic in the surveillance of its citizens – and in the suppression. To this end, the authoritarian system is arming itself militarily, and it may also claim that there is no urge to expand, aggressive behavior in its backyard speaks a different language.
The situation is serious. The liberal democracies are challenged like never before. Because now everyone knows: you can fall behind in the long run. Russia is a warning, China is potently. The mega-country aggressively and ruthlessly pursues its interests in power.
In this respect, all the demands are more than justified, namely that Germany needs a strategic reorientation of its policy here, especially in view of its interconnectedness. What are the German interests, beyond economic cooperation?
The EU and NATO are – again – part of the answer. You have demands on one of the largest economies in the world, on a leading power in Europe. Germany must clarify, with itself and its partners, what is to be achieved politically and militarily in the long term. European defence, for example, is not an obsession, not a fiction – it is ultimately a necessity.
And what does that mean for dealing with China? As Friedrich Merz said: Criticism is not a strategy. It has to look like this, and everyone agrees with him, Robert Habeck, Annalena Baerbock, Olaf Scholz, Christian Lindner: unbundling. This is the need of the hour.
Three points: Germany must also reduce its dependence on China overall. German companies must not be involved in forced labor or benefit from it. And German officials have to address Chinese people on the human rights situation at every opportunity. Open, sure. “Velvet paw”, to pick up a Lindner word, does not get any further.
However, the question that decides everything was raised by Chancellor Scholz at the Davos World Economic Forum: How do we create an order in which very different centers of power work together reliably in the interests of everyone? Complicated, sure. But that’s world politics. And we now know: Dodging was yesterday. looking away too.