Scholz, Habeck and two perspectives on China

DGermany should only allow China what China also allows Germany: This is the position of the Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens) the new German foreign trade policy. “China invests around the world, China buys its commodities around the world, but prohibits buying into its infrastructure. Why don’t we do it the same way?” he asked on Monday at the 17th Asia-Pacific Conference of German Business in Singapore. The sentence is also a dig at the decision by Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) to allow the Chinese shipping company Cosco to enter an operating company at the Port of Hamburg.

Christopher Hein

Business correspondent for South Asia/Pacific based in Singapore.

scholz spoke at the conference three hours after Habeck. He recently defended his visit to China. The joint reminder to Russia not to threaten the use of nuclear weapons was an important signal of this trip. China remains an important trading partner for Germany. “But it always takes two for a tango,” said Scholz. “The diversification is already in full swing.” This should not be confused with a “decoupling”, a decoupling from China. “Deglobalization is not an option for us,” emphasized Scholz.

Habeck had previously urged German companies to broaden their trading relationships. “China is aimed at the whole world, the European Union at China. We are not diversifying, we are even increasing our dependence on China,” he criticized in front of almost 600 managers, association heads and diplomats. Habeck also made it clear: “Diversification is not the same as decoupling. When it comes to diversification, I look for new partners.”

Great importance of the China business

A policy of decoupling is the major concern for most of the economy. This was also expressed by Roland Busch, CEO of Siemens and current head of the Asia-Pacific Committee of German Business (APA). The China business is not only of great importance for his group, investments in countries in which one is already represented pay off more quickly, said Busch. But he also acknowledged that diversification also brings opportunities in the long run: “It’s hard to be in all countries. But diversification makes sense.” In importance of China However, Busch left no doubt about the German economy: “A third of German investments in research and development are now going to China.”

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