Tendencies: Germany’s next China Policy

China didn’t feature prominently in Germany’s 2021 federal election campaign – at least not at the surface.
Somewhat underneath, and not really overreported in the German media, are donations and sponsorships that benefitted the political parties – or one or two of them – in the run-up to the Bundestag elections on September 26.
The picture, according to statista.de (quoting Germany’s federal parliament administration and only recording donations of more than 50,000 Euros):

CDU/CSU (center-right): 3,340,860 Euros
FDP (neoliberal): 2,055,454 Euros
Greens (ecological): 1,790,548 Euros
AFD (right-wing, neoliberal): 100,000 Euros
SPD (social democrats): 50,000 Euros

This is not the full picture, of course. Donations from 10,000 to 50,000 Euros will probably only appear in the political parties’ annual accounts, likely to be published around a year and a half after they happen.
Also, [Update, Oct 8: committed event] “sponsoring” [of party congresses, for example] amounts don’t need to be published in detail – there is no way of knowing who donated, and which amounts.
Still, the above-50,000 statistics give us an idea: the social democrats were considered dead in the water. That, at least, was a general belief into August this year, and that’s as far as the statistics go. Some corporations and lobby organizations may have tried to make up for their negligence when the SPD began to soar in the opinion polls.
Before we get to the China issues, let’s take a look at the 50,000-plus donations in relation to the actual votes for the parties.

Blue: donations >50,000
Red: actual votes
(relations, no numbers)

This doesn’t mean that the SPD wouldn’t like to get donations, and grassroot donations can make a difference too, but it is obvious that the industry didn’t bet on the social democrats and the left party.

China issues in the campaign

Hong Kong’s political activist Ray Wong, now living in German exile, German sinologist David Missal and other activists and human rights groups put a “China elections check” online for those who were interested in the party’s positions concerning China.
They asked each political party represented in Germany’s incumbent federal parliament, the Bundestag, eight questions, and according to the organizers, only the AFD didn’t respond.
That said, the CDU/CSU were “neutral” on seven out of the eight statements.
All eight statements can be considered a demand Missal, Wong and the organizations supporting the project would subscribe to.

The parties’ positions in detail

Statement 1

Statement 2

Statement 3

Statement 4

Statement 5

Statement 6

Statement 7

Statement 8

Political parties by rates of agreement, neutrality or disagreement with / towards the statements, in descending order (respectively)

Party / party group agrees with the statements (pro)

The Greens 6
The Left 3

Party neither agrees nor disagrees with the statements (neutral)

The Left 0
The Greens 0

Party / group doesn’t agree with the statements (opposed)

The Left 5
FDP 0*)
The Greens 2
*) corrected (Oct 8), down from 3


At least for now, the CDU/CSU’s chances of heading (or even just joining) a government coalition have deminished, as both the FDP and the Greens are currently moving closer to the SPD, with some unfriendly noise especially from the CSU, the CDU’s Bavarian sister party.
This would mean that exactly the three parties that find most common ground with the Wong/Missal statements would be in government.
The picture would become much friendlier for pro-China lobbyists if the tide turned again,in favor of the CDU/CSU.
The proof of the pudding is the eating, and the industry will almost certainly become more generous with its donations to the Social Democrats, but for those who want to see a government with clear-cut positions on Chinese crimes against human rights, the trend isn’t looking bad.
The CDU/CSU didn’t really care, and documented that publicly.


Germany after the federal elections, Sept 27, 2021
Guanchazhe flatters Austrian Supernova, April 7, 2018

6 Responses to “Tendencies: Germany’s next China Policy”

  1. If I had a vote, it would probably have been for FDP, but the Greens look good here (is Bundnis 90 really still a distinct thing or are they entirely subsumed inside?).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. An East German who is at least 30 years old (doesn’t have to be born before 1990) might have a clear-cut idea about the weight the civil-rights movement Bündnis 90 or Alliance 90 might still have within the Greens.
    Both the West German Greens and the Alliance traditionally care about human rights, so that’s nothing that would distinguish one side from the other. It doesn’t get easier when you look at the left-/far-left divide, because the far left broke away from the West German Greens before 1989.
    What can be said though is that the “Bündnisgrüne” aren’t nearly as successful in East German elections as they are in West German Länder, and I think you’ll only find one genuinely East German citizen at the federal Green top (Katrin Göring-Eckardt).

    I voted SPD (I usually do), because they are closest to the grassroots. That they also have a comparatively reasonable China policy came as a nice additional surprise. When I did the election check, my postal ballot was already on its way.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Asked an East German, Magda, on Twitter last night, and she believes that there is nothing left of the Bündnis 90. Even if they maintained some influence, they would have fallen out with each other.

    Once she had written that, I remembered some quarrels there. Dissidents are people of courage, but frequently bullheaded and hurting each other – think of Chen Guangcheng.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s interesting to see how “the Left” party replied. They oppose using the term genocide, boycotting the Olympics, banning Huawei, sanctioning Chinese leaders or sending ships to the South China Sea. However, just like any good left-wingers, they support facilitating immigration from Hong Kong, banning forced labour and putting human rights above German economic interests.

    In the end, their positions reflect the fact that they are simply applying their own left-wing ideological lens to these issues (supporting any enemies of the US geopolitically, but putting human rights above business interests and encouraging immigration), rather than actually having a position towards China as a country. Sad.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The Left is still in the Social Democrats’ 1890s mode (which was reasonable and fair enough at the time, 100 – 150 years ago). But if merely I went by the eight statements and their reactions when choosing a party, I’d still think of them them a better choice than the CDU/CSU. I think my stance re China’s regime is obvious, but I do have a number of friends who see China much more positively – and I can see their point, too.

    Huawei itself is a case in point. The marvels about employees’ shares in ownership are not a popular topic in the German press, because it would look quite attractive here – verification issues left aside.
    As for “genocide”, the CDU/CSU and FDP are “neutral” about the label, while the SPD and the Greens (by far the most critical about China otherwise) are against using it. I agree with SPD and Greens (and the Left, as far as that is concerned).



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