Has Angela Merkel’s Germany given China too much leeway?
By: Richard Walker
18 February 2021
Debate has intensified about Angela Merkel’s efforts to tighten ties with China. The question is whether Merkel ushered in an era of smart engagement — or one of dangerous dependency on an authoritarian superpower.
Berlin, December 2020: Angela Merkel was in defensive mode, facing critical questions in parliament about her flagship initiative on China, a sweeping investment treaty between the European Union and Beijing.
“We’re seeing in Hong Kong that China doesn’t even abide by treaties subject to international law,” said Margarete Bause, the Bundestag human rights spokesperson for the Greens — the party emerging as Germany’s most critical of China.
Merkel’s answer was a window into her whole approach to China, which is increasingly being challenged as failing to meet the moment.
“We observe with great concern that, in Hong Kong at the moment, the ‘one country two systems’ issue is very fragile, to put it mildly,” Merkel said. “And, with respect to this contradiction between the values we share and the interests we have, again and again we have to weigh the tradeoffs as we take political decisions.”