Sino-German relations: two Countries, irreconcilable Interpretations, common Ground

The following are excerpts from an article published by Guanchazhe on Friday, written by Huang Ying (黄颖), a researcher with Tongji University’s German Studies Center.

By political turmoil or upheaval, her article refers to the botched attempt of the conservative-liberal parties in Thuringia’s parliament to get to power with support from far-right parliamentarians.

CDU chairperson Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer resigned a few days after she had failed to get her Thuringian partisans back to the federal party line which ruled out cooperation both with the Left Party and the far-right AFD. Huang’s article gives a detailed account of these political events, and then addresses the question about if and how they could affect China’s relations with Germany. The translated paragraphs all deal with this question.

Links within blockquotes added during translation.

Related: “Enhancing and deepening”, German foreign office article, Febr 13, 2020 (click picture for text)

Main Link: Will Germany’s political turmoil affect Sino-German relations? (德国政坛动荡,会不会给中德关系带来不确定性?) – page 2

[…]

A lot of people will ask if Germany’s political turmoil could bring uncertainty to Sino-German relations. The author believes that basically, Germany’s China policy won’t be greatly affected. Although Sino-German economic relations are close, China’s strategic significance for Germany – in political terms – comes only after the European Union and the United States. Germany’s domestic political turmoil won’t change its fundamental political system. No matter to which degree the structure of its political parties may be in upheaval, Germany won’t stop denouncing China’s political system and human rights issues. China’s economic and political rise makes it a challenger in the eyes of Germany’s political and academic circles, not only a challenger of its economy, but also a possible challenger for the Western democratic political system. The fundamental and insurmountable conflict between China and Germany concerning the political systems and values, and the two countries’ different interpretations of freedom, democracy, rule of law, human rights etc. remains irreconcilable, no matter which political party is in power.

不少人会问,德国政坛动荡会不会给中德关系带来不确定性。笔者看来,德国对华政策基本上不太会受到影响。虽然中德经济关系日益紧密,但是从政治角度来看,中国对德国的战略重要性次于欧盟和美国,德国内政的动荡不会改变其基本政治制度。无论德国政党格局怎么动荡,德国不会停止对中国制度和人权问题上的诟病。中国经济和政治崛起被德国政界和学界都视为挑战者,不仅挑战其经济制度,还可能挑战西方的民主政治制度。中德之间存在着根本的不可逾越的政治制度和价值观冲突,两国对自由、民主、法治、人权等方面有着不同的解读,无论德国哪个党派执政,这一冲突都不可调和。

However, recent Sino-German relations have become somewhat easier, which can be seen from two things above all. The first is where the German government stands on the issue of allowing Huawei participation in the building of Germany’s 5G network. At the end of January, the British government had made it clear that Huawei would be allowed to participate in the building of non-central components of Britain’s 5G network, but not in the construction of the sensitive sites, such as nuclear power stations or military bases. This matches two demands: it doesn’t endanger national security and won’t damage relations with important allies (America), and it allows Britain to use new technology and to maintain its competitiveness in the markets.

不过,最近的中德关系有所缓和,这主要表现在两件事上。第一件是备受关注的德国政府对是否允许华为参与德国5G网络建设的表态。一月底,英国明确表态:允许华为参与英国5G网络非核心部分的建设,但不能参与核电站和军事基地等重要网络和敏感地点的建设。这一表态实现了两全:一方面不危及国家安全和不破坏与重要盟友(美国)的关系,另一方面又可以使英国使用新技术和保持市场竞争力。

Soon after that, the European Union also suggested that there was no need to keep Huawei out, and member countries should be allowed to use Huawei equipment, provided that these installations were up to mobile net operation standards and that national security was protected, thus avoiding too much dependence on one supplier. After Britain and the EU had made their positions clear, it was no surprise that Germany’s governing coalition reached a consensus on February 12, saying that Huawei shouldn’t be automatically excluded from the 5G network construction, but that Huawei would have to comply with the highest safety standards. This decision still needs to be negotiated and passed with the social democratic coalition partner1). Before, many social democratic members had opposed Huawei’s participation in Germany’s 5G construction. It can basically be safely said that in 5G network construction, Germany won’t exclude Huawei, and this position will also have a positive influence on other EU member states, and will benefit the stable development of Sino-German relations.

随后,欧盟也建议不要一开始就将华为排除在外,允许成员国采用华为的设备,前提是要收紧对移动网络运营商的安全要求,严格实施保护国家安全的设施,避免对一个供应商产生过分依赖。在继英国和欧盟纷纷表态后,果不出意外,德国联盟党议会党团于2月12日便达成一致,表示不应自动将中国的华为排除再5G网络建设之外,但要求华为必须遵守最高的安全要求。这一决定目前还要与执政伙伴社民党协商通过,此前,有不少社民党成员都反对华为参与德国的5G建设。基本上可以确定,在5G网络建设上,德国不会将华为排斥在外,而且德国的表态还会积极影响欧盟其他国家对华为的态度,这将有利于中德两国关系稳定发展。

What also brought about a turn for the better was that when China raised the nationwide strengths to fight the new-type corona virus, Germany gave China essential support and help. In early February, Germany’s foreign minister Heiko Maas expressed admiration for the Chinese government’s public, transparent and cooperative attitude and vigorous and effective measures against the “epidemic”. The plane that took German compatriots back to Germany had also delivered 5.4 tons of aid supplies to China.

另外,给中德关系带来转机的是,在中国举全国之力抗击抗新冠肺炎的时刻,德国给予了中国必要的支持与帮助。2月初,德国外长海科·马斯(Heiko Maas)对中国政府在抗“疫”过程中采取的公开、透明、合作态度以及有力、有效的措施表示钦佩。借撤侨之机,将5.4吨援助物资运抵中国。

When meeting Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi in Berlin on February 13, Merkel said that Germany highly appreciated the firm and vigorous control measures taken by China to resist the epidemic, and would continue to provide China with support and help. […]

2月13日,默克尔在柏林会见王毅外长时表示,德方高度赞赏中国在对抗疫情时采取的果断有力的防控措施,会继续向中方提供支持和帮助。[…]

While Huang Ying argues that there is common ground, the commentariat (or, maybe, just the comments that remain undeleted) are mixed in their views. On the defensive side, demands for esthetic repairs are made:

The title doesn’t fit, it seems to suggest that China is meddling in Germany’s domestic politics. How about changing it into: How does Germany’s multi-party plight affect China,*)

标题不当,好像中国要干涉德国内政
改一下如何:德国的多党困境,对中国有啥影响

or

Just a trade partner. Germany only looks at China’s wallets. Don’t count on anything else.

一个商业伙伴而已。德国只看中了中国的钱包。其他难指望。

Replying to the reader who worries about the title, another commenter suggests that

I think you are too sensitive, elder brother. […] The ambassador to Germany has kept saying that “no Huawei, no Audi”. Isn’t that interference in German domestic politics?

我倒觉得大兄弟你太敏感了 […] 驻德大使直接放话了,不能搞华为,否则就搞奥迪了。这算不算干涉德国内政?

____________

Note

*) Don’t know if the title has hence been changed.

____________

Related

德国政治面临何种变局, 澎湃, Dec 7, 2018

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