After the election campaign 2021 Annalena Baerbock gave the German newspaper taz an interview which was then critizised by Beijing.
„Taz: China is the biggest polluter. Climate change can only be stopped if Beijing plays along. When it comes to climate protection, the US under Joe Biden is trying to cooperate with China. On most other issues, Washington relies on confrontation. Is that how you will treat China too?
Baerbock: In order to solve global problems, we have to cooperate with one another. In combating the climate crisis, for example, or in combating the corona pandemic, you can only be successful together. We are partners there. We are competitors in other areas, especially when it comes to future technological leadership. As European democracies and part of a transatlantic democratic alliance, we are also in a systemic competition with an authoritarian regime like China. In this regard, it is important to seek strategic solidarity with democratic partners, to defend our values and interests together and to advertise these values with patience in our foreign policy.
Taz: There is a passage on China in the coalition agreement. Several issues that are sensitive from Beijing’s point of view are listed for the first time: Taiwan, Xinjiang and Hong Kong. Will Germany be more confrontational under a Green Foreign Minister?
Baerbock: Dialogue is the central component of international politics. But that doesn’t mean that you have to gloss over things or keep quiet. A foreign policy that puts the differences in the foreground leads to an impasse just as much as one that is based on ignoring conflicts. That is why, for me, a value-based foreign policy is always an interplay of dialogue and rigor. In the long run, eloquent silence is not a form of diplomacy, even if it has been seen that way by some in recent years.
Taz: This also harbors risks, especially for Germany. After all, China is Germany’s most important trading partner.
Baerbock: As Europeans, we shouldn’t make ourselves smaller than we are. We are one of the largest domestic markets in the world. And China in particular has massive interests in the European market. If there is no longer any access to products that come from regions like Xinjiang, where forced labor is common practice, this is a big problem for an exporting country like China. We Europeans should make much greater use of this lever of the common internal market. However, this only works if all 27 member states pull together and not, as in the past, Germany as the largest member state formulate its own China policy. We need a common European policy on China.
Taz: What do you think of a boycott of the upcoming Olympic Winter Games in Beijing?
Baerbock; When I see how China’s leadership deals with the tennis player Peng Shuai or the arrested citizen journalist Zhang Zhan, we should of course also take a closer look at the Olympic Games. There are different ways of dealing with this for governments, which will certainly be discussed in the coming weeks.
Taz; In addition, there was a Twitter action by journalists and associations on Monday explicitly calling on you to stand up for Zhang Zhan’s freedom.
Baerbock: Journalistic reporting is not a crime. Zhang Zhan should therefore be released.“
After foreign minister-designate Annalena Baerbock was critical of China in the taz interview, the Chinese embassy in Berlin warned against a confrontation course between the two countries. “What we need are bridge builders instead of wall builders,” wrote an embassy spokeswoman on Friday in a statement on an interview by the taz with Baerbock.The embassy spokeswoman wrote that “some people”, with a view to Sino-European and Sino-German relations, increasingly focused on differences and spoke of “systemic competition”. „I hope that individual German politicians will look at China and the Sino-German relations objectively and holistically, actively respect China’s core interests and main concerns and devote more of their energy to promoting practical cooperation between the two sides in various areas.“ China is ready to expand common interests with the new federal government „on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit“.
China and Russia feared that the new Green German foreign minister who verbally favours a hard approach of “dialogue and strength”would escalate the existing tensions. However, Baerbock´s first meeting with Russian foreign minister Lawrow was held without any diplomatic turbulences. In the Global Review interview Dr. Rahr gave the Russian impression of the meeting:
Global Review: In an earlier conversation, you said that Lavrov would seek a confrontation with Baerbock if she acted too boldly and then ostentatiously end the conversation after 3 minutes. But that did not happen at the Baerbock meeting with Lavrov. Did Baerbock hit the right tone? Many commentators praised the fact that she had passed her foreign policy litmus test with Russia, while Focus, close to Burda, for example, criticized her for not saying everything explicitly and kept it secret, accusing her of not living up to her creed of dialogue and strength, accused her with appeasement in the style of Brandt’s policy of détente and demands „dialogue and pressure“ in the style of Helmut Schmidt by means of the NATO double- track decision. At the same time, an open letter from 73 Eastern Europe experts calls for them to “leave the German special path”, which exists for the authors since Brandt, Kohl, Schröder, Merkel and now the traffic light coalition. It is striking that the signatories are primarily experts from Eastern European institutes or the Heinrich Böll Foundation, which is close to the Greens, or the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, which is close to the FDP. General ret. Domröse now repeated the accusation that was made against the previous open letter “Get out of the spiral of escalation! For a new beginning of relations with Russia” which had as only important signatories General ret. Naumann and a former high-ranking ambassador no celebrities: similar to the letter from Eastern experts: „It is interesting that the „top people“ are not there..A sort of jungle camp for B-celebrities to get some attention.“ . How do you assess the meaning of these open letters and appeals?
Dr Rahr: Federal Foreign Minister Baerbock ate a surprising amount of chalk before her visit to Russia. I heard that she was briefed before her trip not by her green advisers from Liberal Modernism, but by specialists from the Chancellery. The Russians were impressed that Baerbock honored the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier next to the Kremlin wall. Even more impressive was her statement that Germany would continue to be dependent on gas supplies from Russia. In Moscow, this is interpreted as encouragement for the Nord Stream and a sigh of relief. Moscow likes the fact that Baerbock, unlike Habeck, does not want to supply weapons of war to Ukraine. The Kremlin doesn’t care that some German media and the signatories of the letters critical of Russia quarrel with Baerbock. The calls for or against Russia are perceived in Russia, but the Kremlin is relying solely on Chancellor Scholz in its German policy, just as it used to rely solely on Kohl, Schröder and Merkel. Russia is hoping for more understanding for Russian security interests from Germany. It is believed that Germany under Scholz will return to the old Ostpolitik and will also put pressure on Ukraine to fulfill the Minsk agreements on the peace process in eastern Ukraine. As for the individual appeals in Germany, Moscow sees them as a spasmodic self-promotion of underexposed „experts“ who want to serve their vanities. You can be sure that in Russia I am emphasizing that these appeals are screams from civil society and therefore must be taken seriously“.
After Baerbock performed very moderately at the Lavrov meeting, she is now also being praised by the Global Times after her meeting with Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi without any wolves warrior rehtoric that she refrained from“microphone diplomacy“ – especially on the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Germany and the People’s Republic of China.
“China, Germany pledge to deepen cooperation and refrain from ‚microphone diplomacy‘
By Global Times Published: Jan 21, 2022 11:23 AM
China and Germany have pledged to enhance mutual understanding and refrain from „microphone diplomacy“ on the basis of mutual respect on Thursday when Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock via video link.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Germany, an important year for both sides to commemorate, Wang said. Over the past 50 years, China and Germany respect each other and promote economic development and establish an all-round strategic partnership.
Wang congratulated again Baerbock on her appointment as the foreign minister of Germany.
Baerbock expressed her pleasure to hold the first meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister as the first foreign minister of the new German federal government and sent best wishes for a happy Year of the Tiger in advance.
China and Germany should strengthen the political design of high-level exchanges in the next phase, and lead the healthy and stable development of bilateral relations together, and welcome the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries in a more positive manner, Wang noted.
China-Germany ties have been resilient and stable. „Over the past 50 years, the bilateral trade volume between China and Germany has increased by over 800 times,“ Wang said.
In 2021, the bilateral trade between China and Germany reached a record high despite the impact of the pandemic, which fully demonstrated the complementarity and the resilience of the two economies, Wang said.
The two sides should jointly create new highlights for cooperation in the sectors including the digital technology, communications, service trade, agricultural science and technology, as well as green development, Wang noted.
China welcomes German companies to expand their investment in China and hopes Germany will uphold the principle of fairness and impartiality, excluding external interference, providing a good business environment for Chinese companies in Germany, Wang said.
Taking the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations as an opportunity, Germany is committed to develop a stable partnership with China and will continue to pursue the one-China policy, deepening exchanges and cooperation between the two countries in various fields; Germany is willing to treat all the enterprises in Germany, including Chinese companies, equally, Baerbock said.
The two sides agreed to hold proper celebrations for the 50th anniversary, and prepare for the seventh round of China-Germany government consultations, and strengthen planning for future cooperation. The two sides will give full play to the role of dialogue mechanisms at various levels, including the high-level financial dialogue and the strategic dialogue on foreign affairs and security.
The two countries exchanged views on strengthening cooperation on multilateral affairs. China and Germany are both countries with global influence and an important driving force for China-EU relations; we should not only consider bilateral cooperation, but also focus on promoting China-EU cooperation, in addition to regional and global development, Wang said.
Facing multiple global challenges, cooperation between the two countries holds significant meaning, Baerbock noted. Germany attaches great importance to China’s important role in the international community and is willing to strengthen communication and coordination with China to jointly address climate change and combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
The both sides also exchanged opinions on the Iranian nuclear issue.“
German sinologist Professor van Ess commented:
“Sometimes it’s just a good thing that there are officials with experience in a ministry. Maybe she can listen better than we thought before the election. At least she should know that she has little knowledge and should seek advice. A minister who is not resistant to advice, that would be something new. But it’s too early to make judgments. Above all, I found her extremely nervous that she could do something wrong in her first performances. Perhaps the Russians and the Chinese see this as an opportunity: they praise her for continuing to behave as she did in those first performances.”
Well, therefore it remains to be seen if this is Annalena´s new diplomacy style or if it is just a tactic to become more esatblished and powerful and then switch to “microfon policy”. But it is doubtful that Annalena will held a sort of Huns speech in style of Emperor Wilhelm II or former Navy chief Schönbach.
The initial praise from the Chinese for Baerbockb is now withdrawn immediately after an interview with the SZ (Süddeutsche Zeitung/ South German Newspaper). She has a big mouth and would have returned to microphone diplomacy. Siemens and APA boss Roland Busch is quoted as a key witness against Baerbock.
“GT Voice: China-Germany cooperation must not be derailed by big mouth
By Global Times Published: Jan 24, 2022 08:14 PM
After meeting Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, pledging to refrain from „megaphone diplomacy,“ German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock relapsed to tough talk against China, to the great disappointment of those hoping China-Germany bilateral relationship can develop toward pragmatic cooperation despite all political undercurrents.
In an interview with the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper published on Friday, the German foreign minister said she told her Chinese counterpart that coercion against Lithuania was unacceptable. She also said the EU-China investment treaty a „farce.“
Given that Baerbock has long advocated a tough China approach, it is not surprising to see her confuse right and wrong when it comes to China’s response toward Lithuania agreeing to the establishment of the „Taiwan Representative Office“ in Vilnius.
Lithuania’s move not only represents a direct violation of the one-China principle, but also undermines the EU’s united policy toward China. Under the current circumstances, it is believed that most EU countries have formed their own judgment and will not let China-EU relations be hijacked by Lithuania’s reckless political theater. Still, there is no denying that pro-American forces such as Baerbock may have different views, but this will not create too much uncertainty to China-Germany relations.
The fact that even the hardline Baerbock sees the need to maintain good relations with China, as reflected by the online meeting last week, is a clear indication that it will not be easy for some anti-China forces to derail China-German cooperation.
The German business community has been dissatisfied about the radical rhetoric by German politicians like Baerbock, worrying about the potential impact on bilateral relations, even though they are well aware that there is division in the government’s China policy.
For instance, Siemens President and Chairman of the German Economic and Asia-Pacific Council (APA) Roland Busch openly warned some German politicians not to seek confrontation with China and called for a „respectful attitude“ toward China, according to German media reports.
The business community’s concerns are justified. China is Germany’s largest trading partner, with bilateral trade hitting a new record of $235 billion in 2021. Maintaining the stability of bilateral trade and investment relations is crucial for Germany’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Moreover, the confidence of German companies in the growth of the Chinese market remains strong, according to an annual Business Confidence Survey released by the German Chamber of Commerce in China, and KPMG. Around 60 percent of the 596 German companies in China that took part in the survey reported improved business operations last year.
For some time, the Green Party’s extreme rhetoric on China has made many increasingly concerned about the future of the bilateral relationship. Yet, there are growing signs indicating that the new German government has gradually formed the consensus that it is not in Germany’s national interest to joining hands with the US in countering China.
If a German politician cannot see the forest for the trees, then his or her political life won’t last long. If the German government goes the wrong way in its China policy, to the detriment of its economy, it is bound to put greater political pressure on the German government.
Fundamentally speaking, the challenge for Germany is neither to take sides in politics nor to align its values with the US, but to continue to develop its economic power. This is because Germany’s future development and its ability to play a greater role in Europe and in the world depend on its economic strength, and therefore, cooperation with China is very important.
Meanwhile, China’s economic development also needs continued cooperation with global economic powers such as Germany.
Such interdependence has become a consensus, based on which the two governments should further deepen their bilateral relationship, for the sake of the livelihood of their countrymen.
As contrast the Global Times quotes German Chancelor Scholz as the ideal role model with a constructive small mouth who has not like Baerbock cancelled her participation to the coming Winter Olympics in Beijing- the Xi- Scholz telephone call as guiding example:
“Update: Xi-Scholz phone call eyes advanced China-Germany friendship, ‘reinforces a solid start’
By Cao Siqi and Du Qiongfang Published: Dec 21, 2021 08:01 PM Updated: Dec 21, 2021 08:31 PM
Chinese President Xi Jinping spoke on the phone with Germany’s new Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Tuesday, in which the two leaders pledged to inherit and advance China-Germany friendship and cooperation, maintain close communication on hotspot issues and jointly defend multilateralism in international affairs.
This was the first conversation between the two leaders after Scholz formally took office on December 8, marking an end to Angela Merkel’s 16 years as leader.
Xi once again congratulated Scholz for being elected as German Chancellor. He stressed that China-Germany cooperation is the bellwether of China-EU cooperation and looking ahead to the next 50 years, the two countries should take a global and long-term view, forge ahead and strive for new development of bilateral relations.
Xi called on the two sides to promote mutual cooperation in an active and pragmatic attitude, actively exploring new areas of cooperation such as new energy, green and digital economy, and unleashing the growth potential of trade in services.
„We welcome German companies to leverage their advantages and seize the new opportunities brought by China’s opening-up. We also hope that Germany will provide a fair business environment for Chinese companies in Germany. Germany is an important node in the China-Europe Railway Express. I believe that enhanced cooperation between China and Germany within the framework of the Belt and Road initiative will benefit countries along the routes and promote connectivity of the Eurasian continent,“ Xi said.
The Chinese president also called on resolving regional hotspot issues through dialogue, and firmly opposed hegemonic acts and Cold War mentality in all forms. „It is hoped that Germany will continue to play a positive role in stabilizing China-EU relations and inject stability and positive energy into China-EU relations,“ he said.
Scholz said he has a fresh memory of his previous exchanges with Xi and is ready to carry forward the friendship and cooperation between Germany and China. He also stressed the three pillars of bilateral development: sound trade and investment relations, close cooperation on dealing with climate change and COVID-19, and smooth communication on regional issues such as the Afghanistan situation and the Iranian nuclear issue.
Germany would like to take the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties next year as an opportunity to hold a successful new round of consultations between the two governments, strengthen practical cooperation in clean energy, digital economy and services, Scholz said, adding that Germany hopes the EU-China Investment Agreement will be implemented at an early date and that Germany is willing to work with China to jointly defend multilateralism in international affairs.
Sun Keqin, a research fellow at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times on Tuesday that Scholz has experience dealing with China and is very familiar with China-Germany relations. His policy on China has been steady, objective and calm.
Despite expressing some tough concerns on China in past speeches, the tone on mutual benefits and cooperation has never changed, Sun said.
Scholz’s first formal briefing to parliament has sparked media speculation that the new German government is shifting its tone on China. Scholz said the new government would „not close its eyes to human rights transgressions in China“ but that China was an important economic partner.
The address, taken together with the previously released coalition deal which mentioned China more than a dozen times, has been interpreted by some Western media as signaling a tougher China policy compared to Angela Merkel’s approach.
„The call between Xi and Scholz reinforces a solid start between China and the new German government,“ Sun said.
Scholz met with President Xi Jinping in 2017 when the Chinese leader attended the Group of 20 Summit in Hamburg. As finance minister, he invited Vice Premier Liu He to the Hamburg Summit in November 2018. Scholz also visited China in early 2019.
The phone call also came amid the US‘ attempts to woo other countries not to send officials to the Winter Olympics in Beijing to contain China’s development. So far, European countries do not have consensus on whether to follow US‘ stance on the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
Sun believes Germany will not follow Lithuania and the telephone conversation between the two leaders will „help the German government take a cautious, objective and calm stance on the issue of the Winter Olympic Games.“
However, if Russia would invade Ukraine at the opening of the Winter Olympics 2022 in Beijing an February 20th despite alleged Chinsee intervention in Russia to prevent this as aired by a Bloomberg report which China denounced as smearing campaig, fake news and disinformation by the Anglo-Saxons, Scholz could be forced not to participate in the Winter Olympics and we might expeerience so called big mouth and microphone rhetoric, maybe even a sort of Huns speech by Annalena.