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Berlin and Beijing: German China Policy After Merkel

No single event over the coming year may have bigger implications for international efforts to counter China than the German federal election on September 26. Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose pro-engagement policy towards China has shaped the broader European approach for more than a decade and a half, will step aside, opening the door to what could be a shift in Berlin’s stance. While we do not expect radical change in how Germany approaches the relationship with its biggest trading partner, we consider a shift towards a harder line in Berlin likely. How significant this shift turns out to be will depend in part on the election result, the coalition government that emerges and who ends up running it. So this election does matter, not only for Germany’s stance on China, but also the broader European and multilateral response to Beijing on issues ranging from human rights and climate to trade and technology. In this note, we sketch out the different election scenarios, their implications for Berlin’s policy towards China, and what to look out for under a new German government.

Posted July 22, 2022
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