German Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP/Renew) has called for a tougher stance on China after a scheduled meeting with his Chinese counterpart was cancelled at the last minute.
Lindner was scheduled to meet with Chinese Finance Minister Liu Kun on Wednesday, but his visit to Beijing was cancelled after the Chinese government said Liu had conflicting commitments.
He would support less “velvet paws” in the stance on China than the previous German government had shown, Lindner told the podcast The Pioneer Briefing on Tuesday.
Instead, he called for “a realistic and self-confident approach to China”. Nevertheless, the exchange between the two countries had to be continued, he said.
“We will not let our liberal values be bought for good business deals,” Lindner said. Thus, the balance between values and economic interests should be shifted in favour of the former, he added.
The German government is in the process of developing a new China strategy, which would currently be “finalised”, Lindner said.
Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang tried to calm the situation during a visit to Berlin, where he met with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock (Greens).
“Mr Lindner is, of course, welcome in our country,” he said, adding that preparations for his visit had already been taken. The Chinese government would hope to “soon welcome” Lindner to China, he said.
In his interview, Lindner said that the Chinese government had offered an alternative date for the meeting next week, but it was not possible to arrange “on such short notice”.
In Berlin, Qin and Baerbock prepared for a German-Chinese government consultation, planned for June. The last of such bilateral meetings of multiple ministers had taken place in 2021 via video conference.
In a speech given at the European Parliament on Tuesday, German chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD/S&D), demonstrated support for the EU Commission’s strategy towards China, by describing the relationship as threefold: “partnership, competition, and systemic rivalry”.
“No de-coupling, but clever de-risking is the motto,” he said, something that was also repeatedly stressed by Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.
(Jonathan Packroff | EURACTIV.de)
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