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‘Partner, Competitor, Systemic Rival’ – Baerbock sounds alarm about multifaceted nature of China’s role

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« Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock voiced significant worries about China’s evolving role, characterising it ‘as a partner, as a competitor, and increasingly, as a systemic rival,’ in a debate about the federal government’s China strategy in the German federal parliament on Thursday.
With China being Germany’s largest trading partner, home to 1.4 billion people, and a major military power, the international community is closely monitoring developments in the region.
“The minimization of risks, for example, de-risking and not de-coupling, is something we have already been doing together over the last few months, between and with all resources,” Baerbock explained.
She stressed the importance of broadening economic relations through diversification, aligning with the EU’s economic security strategy, and engaging in international discussions to address these complex challenges.
Baerbock also highlighted troubling developments within China, including leadership changes, a real estate crisis, and a lack of transparency in key statistics. She pointed to China’s foreign policy decisions, such as support for the Assad regime, diplomatic ties with the Taliban, and an increasingly assertive stance in the Indo-Pacific, which includes the release of a controversial map raising territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
The Foreign Minister called for self-examination within Germany and its European partners, advocating for the reduction of one-sided dependencies. She cited examples such as increased scrutiny of foreign investments in Germany and forthcoming EU regulations to counter ‘economic coercion’.
“The German government has just prohibited the complete takeover of a German satellite company by Chinese investors. Or with the forthcoming EU regulation to avert economic coercion. And that is also important again and again. We should not hide our light under a bushel. Together, we have an incredibly strong tool in the EU, our common European single market. Chinese companies also need this common European market, just as we, on the other hand, cannot do without the Chinese market,” she said emphasised the importance of leveraging the strength of the European single market and the mutual interdependence between China and the EU for economic stability.
Baerbock concluded her statements by underscoring the need for cooperation based on fair rules.
“The world is safer and better if we work together on the basis of fair rules,” she stated expressing the desire to cooperate with China and other nations on pressing global issues such as health protection, fair trade, and addressing the climate crisis. »

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