China has expressed its dissatisfaction and made serious inquiries to Germany over comments made by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, in which she referred to Chinese President Xi Jinping as a “dictator.” The Chinese Foreign Ministry described Baerbock’s remarks as an open provocation and stated that they violate China’s political dignity.
Baerbock made her comments in an interview with Fox News last week when asked about the conflict between Ukraine and Russia. She stated that Russian President Vladimir Putin should not be allowed to win as it would embolden “other dictators in the world” like Xi, the Chinese president.
These remarks have drawn the ire of China and resulted in serious inquiries from Beijing to Berlin. The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Mao Ning, called Baerbock’s comments absurd and emphasized that they are an open political provocation. China is extremely dissatisfied with these remarks, as they violate the country’s political dignity.
This incident comes after Germany adopted its first-ever strategy on China in July, which aimed to reduce its economic reliance on its largest trade partner. The strategy labeled China a rival and called for urgent de-risking in relations with China.
Baerbock has been known for taking a hardline stance on China. In August, she stated that Beijing poses a challenge to the fundamentals of how we live together in this world. She also described parts of her trip to China in April as more than shocking, without providing further details. Baerbock emphasized the need for Germany to not be naive and to avoid repeating mistakes it made in its relations with Russia.
The conflict between Russia and Ukraine has raised criticisms of Germany’s change through trade policy towards Russia. This policy, largely associated with former Chancellor Angela Merkel, aimed to bring Russia closer to the West through economic ties. However, Baerbock’s remarks and Germany’s strategy on China indicate a shift in approach, highlighting the need for de-risking relations with China.
It is worth noting that Baerbock is not the only one to have referred to Xi as a dictator. US President Joe Biden also made similar comments in June, following US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to China aimed at easing tensions between the two nations.
Bilateral trade between China and Germany reached a record €300 billion ($337 billion) last year. The July paper on Germany’s strategy on China recognizes China as simultaneously a partner, competitor, and systemic rival.
In conclusion, the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s expression of dissatisfaction and serious inquiries to Germany over Baerbock’s comments reflect the growing tensions between the two countries. Germany’s strategy on China and Baerbock’s stance indicate a shift in Germany’s approach and the need for de-risking in relations with China. The conflict between Russia and Ukraine and criticisms of Germany’s change through trade policy further add to the complexities of Germany’s foreign relations.