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Germany's Chinese Kowtow

Germany is simply too hooked on exports to China to adopt a tougher stance regarding the communist regime’s appalling human-rights record. And Germany’s authoritarian-friendly China policies are unlikely to change when Olaf Scholz, the Social Democratic Party leader and expected future chancellor, takes office.

STANFORD – The Greens and the Free Democratic Party, the kingmakers of Germany’s prospective three-party coalition government, favor confronting China over its human-rights abuses in Xinjiang and its crackdown in Hong Kong. Despite this, Germany’s authoritarian-friendly China policies are unlikely to change when Olaf Scholz, the Social Democratic Party leader who is expected to succeed outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel, takes office.

This is because Germany is simply too hooked on exports to China to take a tougher stance on the country’s appalling human-rights record. One in three German cars is sold in China. In 2019, Volkswagen sold nearly 40% of its vehicles in the country, while Mercedes-Benz sold about 700,000 passenger cars there. Even within Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, many are critical of her for allowing Germany’s dependence on China for exports, jobs, and incomes to reach such a point.

There is an old adage that when you owe the bank a million, the bank owns you, but when you owe it a billion, you own the bank. Similarly, China can be said to “own” German foreign policy because of the German economy’s dependence on exports. Germany does the exporting, and those persecuted by the Chinese regime do the suffering.

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