Plans for a new German China strategy have caused severe resentment in Beijing. According to a draft, dependence on China is to be reduced, human rights are to play a greater role and relations with Taiwan are to be expanded, as the magazines Der Spiegel and Handelsblatt reported from the confidential paper. Like the EU, Germany describes China as a partner, competitor and systemic rival, and states: “However, the latter two aspects are becoming increasingly important.”

When asked by the German Press Agency, the Foreign Ministry in Beijing responded that the classification of China as a “competitor” and “systemic rival” was a “legacy of thinking from the Cold War”. The Chinese government also rejects the “denigration of China by the German side” with so-called human rights issues as well as “lies and rumours”.

According to the new strategy, dependencies – similar to those with Russia – are to be reduced “quickly and at reasonable costs for the German economy”, quoted the “Spiegel” from the first draft. Supply chains should be diversified. In key industrial areas, Germany and the EU “should not become dependent on technological advances in third countries that do not share our values.” Investment guarantees and export credits should be examined more closely.

Don’t drop stones on your foot

In its reaction, the Beijing Foreign Office warned of “artificial trade barriers, new types of protectionism and a politicization of normal economic cooperation in trade and investment and a destabilization of supply chains”. In the end it was “lifting a stone just to let it fall on your foot,” a Chinese proverb was quoted as saying.

According to diplomats, the new strategy for dealing with China is still in the approval phase and should be ready “sometime next year”. First the European security strategy is to be presented, then the German China strategy, which is to be integrated there.

The paper also warns against China’s military build-up: “We increasingly see China as a military actor whose capability building and concrete behavior are affecting Europe’s security interests,” the “Spiegel” continues. It warns against Chinese investments in ports around the world because they “enhance China’s maritime power projection capabilities.”

Cooperation with China should also depend on how China shapes its relationship with Russia. In the war against Ukraine, China is “de facto on Russia’s side”.

According to the draft strategy, Germany also wants to deepen its relations with Taiwan and advocate for the democratic island republic to participate in international organizations. However, Beijing rejects this because it regards the island as part of the People’s Republic. In contrast, Taiwan has long seen itself as independent. The paper suggests starting an impact assessment for an investment agreement between the EU and Taiwan, which Berlin believes is entirely compatible with the One China policy.

However, Beijing’s foreign ministry called on Germany to “cease any form of official contact with Taiwan.” It should also stop sending “wrong signals” to the pro-independence forces in Taiwan.