Annalena Baerbock insists on a different China policy before Scholz’s trip
Aforeign minister Annalena Bärbock (Greens) insisted on changes in German China policy shortly before Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) made his first trip to Beijing. During a visit to the Central Asian republic of Uzbekistan, she said on Tuesday “that we as the federal government are writing a new China strategy because the Chinese political system has changed massively in recent years and our China policy must therefore also change”.
scholz is expected on Friday for his first visit as chancellor in Beijing. There has been criticism of the timing of the trip and the approval he obtained for a Chinese state-owned company to take over a stake in the Port of Hamburg. In particular, the concern is that Germany could become even more dependent on the People’s Republic.
After meeting Uzbek Foreign Minister Vladimir Norov in the capital, Tashkent, Baerbock said she expected Scholz of China Head of state and party leader Xi Jinping conveys key messages from the federal government. “The Chancellor has decided the timing of his trip. Now it is crucial to make the messages that we laid down together in the coalition agreement, the messages that I also brought with me to Central Asia, clear in China as well.”
China ‘increasingly systemic rival’
Beijing It must be made clear “that the question of fair competitive conditions, the question of human rights and the question of the recognition of international law is our basis for international cooperation – be it with a view to Central Asia or with a view to other regions of the world”. Xi recently consolidated his power at the Communist Party Congress. Like Scholz, he is expected at the G20 summit of the major industrialized and emerging countries in Bali in the middle of the month.
Baerbock referred to the coalition agreement of the traffic light alliance. It states that China is a partner on global issues, but also “a competitor and increasingly a systemic rival.” Last week, the cabinet decided on a so-called partial ban on the originally planned participation of the Chinese group Cosco in a port terminal in Hamburg: Cosco can only take on less than 25 percent instead of 35 percent. The Foreign Ministry and other departments had expressed serious concerns.
Baerbock wants to start the visit in Uzbekistan – and previously in Kazakhstan – to send a signal of cooperation to the former Soviet republics. She will be accompanied by a business delegation. The Foreign Minister stressed the importance of human rights. It should also be prevented that China and Russia can expand their influence there unhindered. Baerbock attended a school in Tashkent that had been offering German lessons since 1963. Around 400,000 people learn German in Uzbekistan.
The program then included a visit to a mining facility where 90 percent of the country’s silver and 20 percent of its gold is mined. The company is also the largest copper producer in the former Soviet Union. German companies are active there as suppliers of equipment and engineering services. Cooperation with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan should also reduce dependence on China in the area of important mineral resources.