COMMENT | Ren Ke & Zhang Yuan – XINHUA | After 16 years in office, German Chancellor Angela Merkel goes off duty after a new German federal government is formed after the Bundestag election.
No matter which party will govern after the election, China policy is one of the top diplomatic priorities for a new German government in the post-Merkel era. And only by closer pragmatic cooperation can Germany continue to boost its ties with China in the future and make greater contributions to global economic recovery amid the pandemic and other daunting planetary challenges.
During her tenure, Merkel has ushered in an era of prosperity for Germany, casting off the tag of “sick man of Europe,” and helping Germany achieve almost full employment before the pandemic.
Her risk-management responses have guided Germany, and to some extent the European Union (EU), in overcoming the economic crises such as the 2008 global financial meltdown and the European debt crisis. That has earned her the highest support rate among German politicians in the latest days of her political career.
In recent years, the China-Germany relationship has also seen steadfast development. The resilience in their relations is inseparable from the strong political mutual trust between the leaders of the two sides.
Since last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Merkel have maintained highly frequent and efficient exchanges, which has played an important leading role in the development of China-Germany and China-EU relations, and also demonstrated the high-level mutual trust between the two countries.
Trade and economic cooperation has always been a forceful booster for the China-Germany relationship. Official statistics show that China has been Germany’s largest trading partner since 2016, with two-way trade amounting to around 248.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2020, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Volker Treier, member of the executive board of German chamber of industry and commerce, said if China had not recovered in time, the German economy would have had a much more difficult time in 2021.
The two countries have also helped China and the EU complete their investment agreement negotiations on schedule, and worked together to uphold multilateralism, safeguard free trade, and actively tackle climate change, jointly making positive contributions to maintaining world peace and stability.
The fundamental reason for the great achievements of China-Germany relations, Xi said in a phone conversation with Merkel this month, lies in the fact that the two countries respect each other, seek common ground while reserving differences, focus on win-win cooperation and pursue complementation of their respective advantages.
Looking into the future, China and Germany should work more closely to support the world organizations to shore up confidence in the international community and boost global economic recovery in the post-pandemic world, confronting the Cold War mentality of some countries and other transnational challenges such as climate change and terrorism.
As the world is becoming more turbulent, China and Germany shoulder important responsibilities and their cooperation extends beyond bilateral ties. Sustained China-Germany and China-EU strategic cooperation not only benefits the people of China and Europe, but will bring more confidence and certainty to the world racked by frustrations