Berlin / Beijing (dpa) – Despite major disagreements over human rights, Germany and China are looking to deepen cooperation on business, climate protection and the health sector.
At the German-Chinese government talks, which were held online for the first time, Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) called on Beijing on Wednesday to help stem the corona pandemic and engage in a dialogue on vaccine production and vaccine mutual recognition. . On the economic front, the German side of Beijing called for more market opening.
In her opening statement, Merkel, along with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang, openly addressed the human rights disagreements. Li also admitted that there were differences in German-Chinese relations.
The Sino-German deliberations are the sixth edition of the two-year talks between Germany and China, which have been held every two years since 2011, in which the members of the cabinets also meet for deliberations. Merkel noted a positive balance from the consultations started during her tenure. This “good tradition” has increased cooperation. She hopes “it will not be the last government talks between China and Germany”.
Merkel: Can only manage the pandemic together
The Chancellor said the pandemic had caused many victims and “really tested societies and economies”. She turned to Li and added, “We can only manage this pandemic together. China and Germany can play an important role in this. “This also means speaking openly and transparently about vaccine production and mutual recognition of vaccines,” at least at the World Health Organization, to win the fight against the virus, Merkel said.
Part of the partnership is “that we can tackle tough issues and put everything on the table,” Merkel said. She mentioned the situation in Hong Kong, where Beijing’s security law restricts political freedoms. She would like to see the human rights dialogue with China return soon. “It’s not enough that we both talk about these issues, but it also needs to be brought up in depth, especially with the justice ministers,” she told Li. Merkel essentially defended the dialogue with Beijing: one can only resolve conflicts. if you keep talking.
Chancellor and Li address disagreements
Li said, “China and Germany have different opinions on some issues. That is an objective fact. However, as long as both parties “respect their core interests” and communicate “on the basis of equal treatment and non-interference in internal affairs”, they can create favorable conditions for further smooth development of cooperation.
The current international situation is undergoing complex and profound changes, Li said. The pandemic is far from over. There is still protectionism. As great economies and influential countries, China and Germany supported multilateralism and free trade. “Both sides must set an example for openness, mutual benefit and cooperation for mutual benefit.”
Beijing understands “core interests” to include its claim to Taiwan, considered part of the People’s Republic, and its controversial territorial claims in the South China Sea. Beijing always rejects criticism of its tough stance against the Hong Kong democracy movement or its dealings with the Muslim-Uyghur minority as interference.
Merkel insists on implementation of the investment agreement
The Chancellor discussed the investment agreement between China and the European Union (EU). This could also be a cornerstone for transparent economic relations, mutual market access and reciprocity. The agreement would provide more legal certainty and transparency. Decent working conditions are of great importance everywhere and for all people in Germany and China, Merkel said.
At the end of 2020, China and the EU reached an agreement on an investment deal that had been pushed forward under German leadership. It aims to improve access to the Chinese market. China vaguely promises “sustained efforts” to ratify two Forced Labor Conventions. The agreement has not yet been fully negotiated. It must also be approved by the European Parliament.
At an economic forum, Secretary of State for Economic Affairs Marco Wanderwitz (CDU) called on China to be open to the market and a rapid leveling of competitive conditions. He was concerned about China’s new “two-loop” strategy to boost domestic demand and make China more independent. The concept created “extra uncertainty”, it should not grow to the detriment of German companies.
While the strict Chinese access restrictions following the pandemic are one of the major concerns of German companies according to surveys, the topic was not raised in the press-public section of the forum. However, as the German news agency discovered, it was on the agenda of the talks between Merkel and Li, who had initially been in close contact with selected business representatives behind closed doors.
In the context of the consultations, letters of intent were signed to intensify cooperation in climate research with the aim of climate neutrality, food security and in the field of environment, climate change and sustainable development, as well as a health action plan.