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The coalition agreement of the future German government is here. During the presentation of the paper, China was only mentioned briefly. Covid naturally dominated the press conference. But the paper contains surprisingly clear words on foreign policy. The new government wants to maintain the status quo in the Taiwan Strait and calls China a “systemic rival.” The coalition members plan to address Beijing directly about the issues of Xinjiang and Hong Kong. They also call for peaceful conduct in the Indo-Pacific. And last but not least, they believe in free and fair trade.
But as the analysis by our political experts Amelie Richter and Felix Lee shows, the governing parties are not adopting a completely new stance. While the document addresses these issues more explicitly and extensively than the previous coalition agreement four years ago, the coalition partners are aligning themselves with EU positions, right down to the wording. These positions already form the basis of the joint Far East policy in Brussels.
Overall, the coalition agreement strikes a decent balance. It signals more self-confidence towards China without resorting to populist slogans. The emphasis on human rights as the basis of civilized politics also has its place in it.
Meanwhile, there is a considerable need for discussion on the human rights front. The whereabouts of tennis player Peng Shuai remain unclear. There is no sign of an independent investigation into her allegations – instead, China is suppressing the MeToo movement. Marcel Grzanna asked around Germany’s sports federations how they see the case. Despite all the concern about Peng, a boycott of the Olympics is out of the question for the officials. Instead, individual athletes should speak out about the situation in China.
The next China-Africa summit will take place next week. Our guest author Robert Kappel from the University of Leipzig classifies the investments of the Silk Road power for us. The economics professor can prove: China’s involvement has not created as many jobs as it was hoped for ten years ago but instead had considerable side effects. China thus does not come to China as the savior it pretends to be.
The traffic light is geared towards the EU
For the past two months, around 300 politicians from the SPD, the Greens, and the FDP negotiated in 22 working groups. On Wednesday, the new traffic light coalition finally presented its coalition agreement. The future governing parties have dedicated a separate section to China. And it’s packing a punch. “We want to and must shape our relations with China in the dimensions of partnership, competition, and systemic rivalry,” reads the agreement negotiated by the three parties.
Based on human rights and international law, the new German government will certainly seek cooperation and negotiate fair ground rules in the increasing competition with China. But the agreement also holds a direct message for Beijing: “Our expectations of Chinese foreign policy is the responsibility for peace and stability in its neighborhood.”
The agreement does not leave it at mere rhetoric. The coalition members made clear what they meant. “We clearly address China’s human rights violations, especially in Xinjiang.” The principle of “one country, two systems in Hong Kong” must be reasserted. China’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea are also mentioned.