The German Council on Foreign Relations has launched a report strategizing about Germany's (potential) new foreign policy. Read my take on China and what I think Germany should do.
China's economic and political rise challenges Germany in different regards. From the competitiveness and cohesion of its soceity to the robustness of our democratic institutions China needs to be considered by the new German government. Tackling this challenge is difficult because Germany's economy is closely interwoven with China's. What should Germany do to cope with the systemic rivalry?
In my contribution to the German Council on Foreign Relation's "idea workshop" I outline some suggestions that I structure in three clusters:
First, Germany should tackle China as a both a "whole-of-government" and a "whole-of-society" issue. A new national security council could establish a "China board". However, China requires more than just the federal government to deal with the PRC. Companies, civil society and local administration needs just as much (though different kinds of) support. I suggest decentralized information centers.
Second, Germany should develop its new China policy as a European one and tie in with the three-sided approach introduced by the "Strategic Outlook" in 2019. However, Germany could contribute to a concretization of the Strategic Outlook by dealing with the trinity of China as a coopertion partner, a competitor, and a systemic rival in unity and not use it as an excuse for the continuation of policy silos.
Third, I suggest ideas for a principled China policy. When and how should we prioritize principles over economic interests if they conflict? Core interests, leverage and the degree of violation of universal values could be three starting points. Also, Germany should better defend the Chinese diasporas in the country.