Why Germany Can’t Break Up With China

When Germany’s chancellor, Olaf Scholz, took office in 2021, he pledged that his government would shift his country’s relationship with China away from one of economic dependence. Three years later, talk of scaling back reliance on China has been replaced with calls for equal access to China’s market for foreign firms.

That strategy puts the Germans at odds with many of their closest allies, including the United States and other European countries, which would like to see China scale back its recent surge of exports in the green energy sector, including electric vehicles. The U.S. Treasury secretary, Janet L. Yellen, has talked about imposing trade restrictions on China.

The chief executives of several leading multinational companies based in Germany joined Mr. Scholz on his three-day tour of China, which included a meeting with Xi Jinping, China’s top leader, in Beijing on Tuesday. All of the company leaders oversee large operations in China that they are eager not only to maintain, but in many cases to expand.

That leaves Mr. Scholz facing the delicate act of balancing the export-oriented needs of his domestic economy with pressure from allies to leverage his country’s position to make demands on the Chinese.

How deep is the relationship between Germany and China?

German companies invested 10.4 billion euros, or $11 billion, in China last year and, unlike their counterparts in Japan and the United States, they have showed little sign of waning.

Some analysts see this as proof of German strength in its position to push its agenda with Chinese leaders.

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