China tries to keep Germany a bright spot in its European relations, as an end to Angela Merkel’s lengthy tenure looms.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and German Chancellor Angela Merkel joined up via video link on April 28 to co-host the sixth round of China-Germany intergovernmental consultations. The two leaders listened to work reports on China-Germany from 25 different departments, “including foreign affairs, economy and trade, judiciary, finance, industry, transportation, education, science and technology, health, agriculture, environmental protection, and social security,” according to a read-out from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.
According to a Germany’s Federal Foreign Office, the talks placed a special emphasis, unsurprisingly, on the global challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change. The two sides signed a number of agreements, including one on climate cooperation, after the consultations.
The talks, first held a decade ago, are a testament to the depth and breadth of China-Germany relations. But this round came at a fraught moment for ties, as the European Union reconsiders its China policy amid growing China-U.S. competition.
Li seized on the opportunity to emphasize that “China and Germany are all-round strategic partners, and win-win cooperation is the defining feature of the bilateral relationship.”
“In the face of a major pandemic, the international community must send a strong message of cooperation and show the strength of unity. China is willing to firmly grasp the general direction of dialogue and cooperation with Germany,” Li said. But he qualified that with a long list of “conditions”: “As long as both sides can respect each other’s core interests and major concerns, communicate on an equal footing without interference in each other’s domestic affairs, dispel misgivings, narrow differences and concentrate on cooperation, favorable conditions for further dialogue and cooperation will be created.
In other words, to ensure “favorable conditions” Germany will have to stop speaking out about problems in the relationship, especially human rights issues within China. Merkel, however, pressed for the opposite, expressing a wish for expanded human rights dialogues, including on Hong Kong.
The meeting on April 28 followed on from an April 21 virtual meeting between Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, which focused on security and foreign policy cooperation. There was a touch of defensiveness in the Germany Federal Foreign Office’s summary of the dialogue, which noted that “there are a number of conflicts – especially in China’s neighbourhood – that can only be resolved by means of close and constructive dialogue with China.”
news source: thediplomat