Guide to Germany’s First China Strategy

Germany’s first China strategy, published on July 13, 2023, points out various economic and security related risks Berlin sees in its relationship with China in starker terms than ever before. The strategy states unequivocally that the country needs to change its approach to the Asian giant accordingly. However, while aligning itself with the European Union’s “de-risking” drive to reduce economic dependencies on China and its classification of the country as a “partner, competitor and systemic rival”, the eagerly-awaited paper does not follow through with any new binding policy measures.

Instead, the German government’s strategy sets out some commitments to explore certain responses and calls for companies to manage their exposure to Chinese risks themselves. Nevertheless, stakeholders and analysts said the strategy, which was delayed following significant debate within the governing three-party coalition, helps to shed light on how Germany views its biggest trading partner at a time of increased concern in the West about China’s growing assertiveness. Business groups welcomed the focus on de-risking rather than decoupling from China which remains an important market for many German companies. But others said the document lacked detail on implementation or on the trade-offs involved, while the Chinese embassy in Berlin warned that a strategy based on an ideological view of China would damage cooperation and mutual trust.

This Dods Political Intelligence report, written by our German-language monitoring team, provides an overview of Germany’s inaugural China strategy, including key elements and context, along with a selection of political and stakeholder reactions with links to original sources.

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