Sino-German relations under Merkel, a model for Europe, may briefly suffer after she leaves
German Chancellor Angela Merkel speaks with children at Jinputao Primary School in Hefei, east China’s Anhui Province, October 30, 2015. Photo: CFP
As “Mutti (Mum)” of the German people and “crisis manager” of Europe, Angela Merkel is stepping down from the post she had held for 16 years, making her the country’s second chancellor and the first chancellor to leave the power of his own will.
A few days before her departure, several global inquiries into her were overwhelmingly positive, which CNBC called “a feat rarely achieved by world leaders who leave.”
She has been a mainstay in Europe, guiding the continent through the financial crisis of 2008 and the unprecedented waves of migration of 2015, resisting the challenges posed by Trump’s tumultuous tenure, and leading the EU to march steadily towards it. strategic independence and well-balanced relations with China and the United States, according to Chinese analysts.
After tumbling down at the first stage, it was under the Merkel era that Sino-German relations gradually reached a healthy state with the search for common ground while reserving differences, making Sino-German relations a beautiful model of bilateral relations between China and the major Western countries. , they noted.
There is no doubt that Merkel has left a great legacy of leadership, but her resignation is also at a critical time for Europe, which has plunged into a dilemma of refugees, an aging population, far-right forces. endemic and being hit on the head. by the constant betrayal of the United States, from the Afghan withdrawal to the AUKUS pact.
Europe is at a crucial crossroads, and this has given rise to discussions as to whether Merkel’s exit leaves Europe with opportunities or in peril, whether there will be another Merkel who can lead the ‘Europe to push back risks and resolve future crises and, more importantly, to forge a third way between Washington and Beijing.
Sino-German relations a beautiful model
Chinese analysts said Merkel’s most important legacy lies in consolidating Germany’s global influence and leading the EU towards strategic integration and independence while helping Germany and Europe to go through a cascade of crises.
Jiang Feng, a researcher at the Shanghai University of International Studies, told the Global Times that Merkel’s 16 years in power have significantly strengthened the influence and power formation of Germany and Europe on the World Scene.
Merkel has played an inseparable role in China and Europe, together becoming the world’s stabilizing force amid the turbulent global model caused by the United States, Jiang said.
Merkel’s policies could be described as seeking stability, precision and evolution over time without recklessly advancing on military and security, and her scientific decisions ensured the stability and development of Germany and the United Kingdom. ‘EU, and have helped Europe resist pressure from Trump while seeking a balance between the main powers, Sun Keqin, a researcher at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times.
A new global study by Paris-based consulting firm Ipsos, conducted online among nearly 20,000 adults in 28 countries on people’s opinions of Merkel last week, showed that 53% of people in 11 European countries agree that Germany has been a trustworthy partner for their country. on European issues under Angela Merkel. In 16 non-European countries, the deal is even higher, with 55% believing that Germany has been a reliable partner for their country on global issues.
In Western media reports, Merkel’s attitude towards China has sparked controversy. In 16 years, no other Western leader has visited China as many times as Merkel – 12 times in total.
Wolfram Adolphi, a German political scientist, who headed the Berlin section of the Party of Democratic Socialism, a precursor of the present Left Party, recently told the Global Times that he believed Merkel, forced to act in difficult international circumstances like the severe changes in US foreign policy and the very different economic, political and ideological interests inside Germany have had success. Merkel maintained a certain balance which allowed the development of bilateral relations with China in a sense of mutual benefit.
For Chinese scholars, Merkel went through a process of understanding Sino-German relations and Sino-European relations, and ultimately formed a pragmatic and stable Chinese policy, making Sino-German relations the most stable among bilateral relations between China and Western countries.
China and Germany have engaged in genuine and practical cooperation during the Merkel era, and dozens of bilateral relations mechanisms have ensured close bilateral cooperation when dealing with global governance and burning issues, said He Zhigao, researcher at the Institute for European Studies of China. Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.
Cui Hongjian, director of the Department of European Studies at the China Institute for International Studies, told the Global Times that Sino-European relations developed significantly under the Merkel era, guided by Sino-German relations, which served as a stabilizer for China-Europe. reports.
“Sino-German relations are also a good example for bilateral relations between China and Western countries,” Cui said.
Chinese analysts have said that resolving one crisis after another also requires strong and stable leadership, especially in the face of major international changes and unprecedented public health crises.
China and Germany, with a stable government, have strongly pushed for effective quarantine measures to control the COVID-19 pandemic despite protests from some German residents, unlike the US government which has focused heavily on the elections and personal interests, failing in their COVID-19 response, Sun said.
The Ipsos survey also highlighted the important role of strong leadership, as an average four in five adults across all countries surveyed agreed that the world needs strong leaders to solve global challenges, like Merkel. And the deal is highest in China (90%), Australia (88%) and Russia (87%), according to the survey.
Germany’s 16 years with Chancellor Angela Merkel. Graphics: Wu Tiantong / GT
The post-Merkel era
In the face of the challenges of economic recovery, endemic refugees and far-right forces and betrayal by the United States, Europe’s sense of strategic independence has been fully activated, but as to whether there will have another Merkel leading Europe through crises and charting a third way between China and the United States, Chinese analysts said it would be very difficult to find.
“Merkel’s departure is definitely bad news for Germany and the EU, and we cannot say that there will never be another Merkel in Europe, but it will take at least three to five years.” said Zhao Junjie, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Sciences’ Institute of European Studies, told the Global Times, noting that Merkel’s strength lies in her rational thinking on how to balance the issues between the great powers for the benefit of the stability and development of the EU.
Only Germany and France could lead the EU towards strategic independence, but Emmanuel Macron was not sophisticated enough in handling international affairs and Merkel’s successor in Germany also needs time, Zhao said.
Some Western media believed that Europe in the post-Merkel era will lean towards the investment agreement between the United States and China-EU may be impossible, but Zhao said the main EU countries , who were angered by the irresponsible withdrawal of the United States from Afghanistan and felt stabbed in the back after the United States signed the AUKUS pact with the United Kingdom and Australia, will keep a distance from the United States.
And the China-EU investment deal was for both China and a dozen EU countries, and EU countries will not let the European Parliament kidnap their national interests, and therefore, it will be finally ratified, Zhao said.
Regarding Sino-German relations in the post-Merkel era, he said we have a cautiously optimistic attitude. Her successor may not be as politically mature as she is, and there may be policy changes that could affect Sino-German relations. But due to the close cooperation on economic exchanges and the shared views on opposing a unipolar world, Sino-German relations will eventually return to the right practical path.
Cui believed that uncertainty in Sino-German relations would increase in the post-Merkel era, and by pushing for European integration, China could become Germany’s target to shift disputes with members of the EU.
But Merkel’s Chinese policy has become the dominant Chinese policy for Berlin, and her successor, no matter who, will change Merkel’s policy based on that but not overthrow it completely.
“Merkel’s Chinese policy is based on safeguarding German interests, especially in the economic and trade arena. It simply cannot be abandoned and no leader dares to pay such a price,” Cui said.