The German-Chinese Bilateral Approach
An Economic and Human Rights Summit in BeijingMay 25th, 2018
On May 24th, 2018, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, stressed that improved ties with China are a much-needed step towards greater market access for German companies in China.
Chancellor Merkel's trip to China took place when tensions in Beijing and the European Union have risen over trade relations with the United States, as well as United States President Donald Trump's decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.
The leaders agreed upon a continuous discussion with North Korea, after both Washington and Pyongyang threatened to withdraw from what would be a historic summit scheduled for June 12. Chancellor Merkel is aiming for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Both sides seek further cooperation by arranging regular bilateral meetings, not just on business and trade, but also on human rights.
In other words, Germany and China have recognized the significance of the trans-Atlantic relationship — the shared history, cultural affinity and the mutual security provided through NATO, despite facing increased tension and less common ground with Washington. Berlin and Beijing have decried President Trump's decision to walk away from the Iranian nuclear accord, while both also face potential “punitive trade tariffs by [President] Trump’s administration.”
As a result, leaders from Germany, who do business with China, have requested an easing of conditions and introduction of greater market access with China. Germany has realized that its relationship with the United States has dramatically changed since President Trump took office. Even so, German-Chinese relations cannot make up for Germany's frosty relationship with the United States. Although economic ties with China are promising, politically, German-Chinese collaboration would be found eccentric. For decades, Germany's strongest ally outside Europe has been in Washington. Consequently, Germany must work even harder for a united European Union, and endeavor to rejuvenate the trans-Atlantic relationship.