Government talks with China

6th German-Chinese intergovernmental consultations: despite numerous differences, Germany is seeking common ground in dialogue with China. 


Berlin/Beijing (dpa) - Despite its differences with China, Germany is seeking common ground in its dialogue with Beijing. During the German-Chinese intergovernmental consultations on Wednesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel sought to move the difficult relationship forward with China's Premier Li Keqiang. This is the sixth time the talks have taken place; they have been held on this large scale every two years since 2011 and also involve members of the two countries’ cabinets meeting for consultations. For the first time, only video conferences took place this year because of the pandemic.
"It is important even in times fraught with conflict to invest in relations and uphold the cooperation agenda," noted the head of the Berlin-based China Studies Institute Merics, Mikko Huotari. Yet China, he explains, is positioning itself "more as a competitor and rival". However, because of the close ties between the German economy and China, Germany's China policy is not aimed at decoupling, but wants instead to "make even more China possible".
Differences between Germany and China relate to China's tough stance in Hong Kong and its threats towards Taiwan and in the disputed South China Sea. In addition, relations are suffering due to the problems experienced by German industry as a result of China's strict entry restrictions during the pandemic. Businesses are complaining that visas are not being granted, that regulations are being changed at short notice and, in some cases, that the hotels stipulated for the two-week forced quarantine upon entry are unacceptable.
Irrespective of all the differences of opinion, the German government wants to make concrete progress on issues that are important to both sides, citing the environment, climate and economic relations. Government spokesperson Steffen Seibert called relations "dynamic, close, diverse". Without going into the differences, China's foreign office spokesperson Wang Wenbin spoke of "good momentum in bilateral cooperation" and said that it should be driven forward.