Monday, November 26, 2007

Current Irritations in German Relations with China

In an interview, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier discusses the cooling relations between Berlin and Beijing following Chancellor Angela Merkel's meeting with the Dalai Lama.

Invitation to the Chancellery
The chancellor has to have the freedom to decide whom she receives and where. In that regard we won't let anyone interfere with what we do. In terms of the current deep irritations in our relations with China, it is of course regrettable that the dialogue about law-based government that has been painstakingly built up over years, and in which human rights has been placed at the forefront, has now been interrupted. That is also true of the cancellation of (German) Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück's visit (to China).

German industry is also complaining
That may be true. But I certainly would not pit economic interests against human rights. Advocacy of human rights remains a fundamental component of German foreign policy. The question is how we can best do that. Perhaps we as Social Democrats have a more emphatic experience with policies of détente. During the Cold War, we sought to open up channels of communication and build bridges so that exchange was possible between people - despite the systemic conflicts between the states... Complete interview at

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