Why Post-Merkel Germany Will Change its Tune on China
BERLIN — One by one, democratic governments across the globe are hardening their stance on China. What started in Australia and the United States has spread to India, Canada and the United Kingdom.
And then there is Germany. An outlier among global players, Berlin has often gone out of its way to avoid criticizing China’s leadership, even as Beijing has exploited European divisions in the COVID-19 crisis, organized the detention of Uighur Muslims on a mass scale and imposed draconian security legislation on Hong Kong.
Not only has Germany remained silent, but it has also vigorously defended that silence. Earlier this month, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, a close ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, told POLITICO and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in separate interviews that it is not Germany’s role to lecture other countries. Altmaier said he is still a believer in “Wandel durch Handel” — the idea that closer trade ties will push China toward a freer and more open political system.