by Soeren Kern
- Olaf Scholz, who succeeded Angela Merkel as chancellor on December 8, pledged [in a telephone call with China’s President Xi Jinping] to strengthen economic ties with China, but he failed to mention human rights or the destruction of democracy in Hong Kong.
- The telephone call will disappoint those who had hoped that Germany’s new government would break with the past and take distance from Merkel’s policy of appeasing dictators and sacrificing human rights on the altar of financial gain.
- If Scholz promised to advance bilateral economic relations without linking them to the protection of human rights, it would be a direct violation of Germany’s coalition agreement, which pledged to make human rights the centerpiece of German foreign policy.
- The Merkel government, apparently under pressure from German industry, largely ignored human rights abuses in Xinjiang.
- China is Germany’s biggest trading partner, with €212 billion in goods exchanged in 2020, according to the German Foreign Ministry. More than 5,000 German companies operate in China, according to the German Chamber of Commerce in China.
- “Did the new German Chancellor pressure the Chinese dictator during their phone call over the Chinese blackmail of Lithuania, EU and NATO ally of Germany? Or does Germany still not care about the strategic reality and is its foreign policy still driven by greed and appeasement?” — Jakub Janda, Director of the Prague-based European Values think tank.
- “Merkel will be judged harshly by future historians. She has done little to prepare Germany and the European Union for the challenges that the Putin and Xi regime pose to liberal democracies. And Scholz is doubling down on her failed foreign policies vis-a-vis autocracies. It will end in tears.” — Andreas Fulda, German political scientist and expert on EU-China relations.