Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) wants to strengthen economic cooperation with Asia and the Pacific region and expand it significantly. “The Asia-Pacific region is much more than China,” he said at a German business conference in Singapore on Tuesday.

He promised to push ahead with free trade agreements with Australia, India and Indonesia and held out the prospect of further such agreements. “My message is: Germany would like to strengthen economic ties with your region,” he said.

“But for a tango you always need two.”

Scholz emphasized that he is not aiming for decoupling from China. However, the most recent party congress of the Chinese Communist Party has made it clear how much China has changed in the past five to ten years. “Our political and economic approach must take this into account.” Of course, China remains an important economic and trading partner. “But for a tango you always need two.” Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is increasingly aligning Chinese politics with national interests, consolidated his power at the party congress in October by being re-elected as party leader.

Scholz announced that reducing one-sided dependencies for certain raw materials and technologies will play an important role in the national security strategy that is currently being drawn up. In order to ensure secure supply chains, trade relations would have to be broader.

In his speech, Scholz also referred to the global effects of the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. “Increasing our cooperation is crucial because we are all feeling the geopolitical ground shifting beneath our feet,” he said. The war threatens the worldwide peace order. “That’s why it’s so important that we don’t let Putin get away with his imperialist goals.”

Habeck warns against naivety when dealing with China

Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck also confirmed in Singapore that there should be no one-sided dependencies. Action must now be taken. The vice chancellor warned against being naïve when dealing with China. Germany may have had too much faith that everything would always go well, said the Green politician on Sunday, referring to the dependency on Russian gas supplies and the war against Ukraine.

Now, under terrible circumstances, one had to learn that this is sometimes naïve and dangerous. Such mistakes should not be made when dealing with China, Habeck made clear. Critical infrastructure in Germany must be protected. Only recently did the federal government stop Chinese investors from investing in German high-tech companies. However, the participation of a Chinese group in a port terminal in Hamburg was made possible.