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Germany and China: Bilateral relations

03.03.2022 - Article

The Federal Republic of Germany and the People’s Republic of China established diplomatic relations in 1972. Since then, German-Chinese relations have become multi-faceted and intense. For both Germany and the European Union, however, China is at the same time a partner, a competitor and a systemic rival.

China was once again Germany’s largest trading partner for goods in 2021, with a volume of trade of over 245 billion euro. International crises and mounting global challenges (including climate change and COVID-19) are placing a premium on German-Chinese cooperation and coordination. China views Germany both economically and politically as a key partner in Europe. The regular high-level coordination of policy conducted through a large number of dialogue mechanisms, as well as trade relations, investment, environmental cooperation and cooperation in the cultural and scientific sectors, are key elements in bilateral relations. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, exchange between Germany and China has been severely impacted by substantial Chinese travel restrictions in nearly all areas. Furthermore, Germany advocates substantive and reciprocal relations between the EU and China, as well as increased EU unity towards China.

Despite close relations in the aforementioned spheres, fundamental differences of opinion do exist, in particular with regard to human rights, above all individual freedoms and questions regarding the validity of international law, the international order and the interpretation of multilateralism. Germany continues to have a major interest in China opening its markets further to European companies and their products, establishing rule of law structures and social systems, allowing more political and economic participation, resolving minority issues peacefully, with respect for human rights, and in this spirit shaping its commitment in international institutions and in support of a rules-based international order.

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