China-Germany ties should transcend ideological and geopolitical barriers
After meeting Chinese leaders in Beijing, German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Shenzhen, a city that has led China's reform and opening-up. This is Merkel's first China visit since her reelection and her 11th since becoming German chancellor.
As Global Times writes in an article "China-Germany ties should transcend ideological and geopolitical barriers", Germany and Europe hold high hopes for Merkel's visit, expecting her meeting with Chinese leaders could deliver a joint response on the fragile Iran nuclear deal and on how to tackle the challenges presented by Washington on trade issues. The Trump administration's recent announcement that it is withdrawing from the Iran deal and its decision to relocate the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem have shocked the Europe. Germany is also bearing the brunt of Washington's hard-line trade policy. Merkel needs Beijing's support.
Merkel's meeting with President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang were fruitful as both sides reached broad consensus. But upgrading China-Germany relations so that both sides can jointly face global challenges and benefit from diplomacy is not easy.
First, Germany and China share huge common interests. Bilateral trade is increasing at a fast pace. In the past decade, German exports to China quadrupled and trade volume has doubled, reaching over $200 billion in 2017. China is German automakers' largest market and good performance in an expanding Chinese market is crucial to maintaining robust growth in the German economy.
However, a common bottleneck that involves difference in politics and values exists between Germany and China. Germany sees itself as part of the Western system. Apart from challenging Beijing on human rights issues, Berlin remains vigilant toward the Chinese model. Germany wants to deepen cooperation with China to boost its economy but remains concerned that the process could further help China's rise and give the Chinese model an advantage in competition with the West.
In terms of trade, Berlin is pleased to see Washington exert pressure on Beijing in intellectual property protection and market access, but wishes to gain Beijing's support on safeguarding free trade and multilateralism.
Germany needs to transcend traditional concepts and squarely face the new reality of international politics and economic progress in the age of globalization. The world is no longer divided into camps, and intertwined interests and stances have become ever more common.
China-Germany ties must make a greater breakthrough in transcending ideological and geopolitical barriers. Western values should not be the glass ceiling between China-Germany relations and their cooperation needs to break free from the Cold War mentality.