Germany and China have entertained diplomatic relations for 45 years. Seldom has their political dialogue been as close as in recent times. Foreign Minister Gabriel travelled to Beijing on Tuesday (23 May). A civil society dialogue seeking to establish a forum for social issues was being held for the first time in the framework of a visit.
“Europe and China advocate an open world trade order”
Political encounters between Germany and China are taking place almost on a weekly basis at the present. As recently as the end of April, Foreign Minister Gabriel and his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi met for the Strategic Dialogue in Berlin. In February, they met at the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Bonn. Federal Ministers Zypries, Maas and Müller travelled recently to China, while Premier Li Keqiang is expected in Germany in a few days’ time and President Xi Jinping is to attend the G20 Summit in Hamburg in July.
This was another visit, Foreign Minister Gabriel said after his meeting with his counterpart Wang Yi, when “a very good dialogue had quickly been established”. The two Foreign Ministers focused on the forthcoming G20 Summit, which will be looking, among other things, at global trade. “China and Europe are committed to an open global trade order,” Gabriel emphasised. It was clear that World Trade Organization standards had to be adhered to, he continued.
Gabriel also met Premier Li Keqiang to discuss economic issues.
They talked about the reform agenda, trade and investment and electric mobility, and agreed that relations should be intensified.
Key role in political issues
However, economic exchange with China stopped being the only increasingly important aspect of relations some time ago. The country also plays a key role in political terms, for example in the context of the conflict on the Korean peninsula and the repeated missile tests by Pyongyang.
A lasting solution can only be found in cooperation with China. Cooperation with China also plays a central role in the field of climate protection.
New forum for social exchange: People-to-People Dialogue
“We need to complement economic and political relations with a socio-cultural component,” Gabriel stressed during the trip. With this in mind, Gabriel and Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong together opened the first meeting of a Sino-German social dialogue.
The dialogue is to take place every two years, bringing together representatives of the fields of culture, education, the media and sport to discuss bilateral social cooperation. It is hoped that the format can also be used as a platform from which to tackle difficult issues.