In a Reuters interview on Friday, the leader of Germany’s main opposition party, Friedrich Merz, called for Berlin to involve key allies in negotiations with China in response to a global “paradigm shift” in security and foreign policy. Merz, who became head of the conservative CDU party in 2022, stated that Germany could no longer depend solely on U.S. security while purchasing cheap gas from Russia and goods from around the world.
Merz’s comments reflect a growing shift in German policy towards Beijing following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which exposed Europe’s heavy reliance on Russian energy. This represents a departure from former CDU Chancellor Angela Merkel’s era, during which China became Germany’s largest trading partner and a crucial export market.
Merz emphasized the need for close coordination with European partners, especially with France, in re-evaluating ties with China. He called for a key representative of the French government to participate in future talks between Germany and China, stressing the importance of well-prepared consultations that produce results, rather than mere day trips with oversized delegations and small agendas.
Merz recommended reducing the presence of technology from China’s Huawei as soon as possible, without removing existing Huawei systems from German networks. He also stated that he would not travel to Taiwan at present, in order to avoid provocation, following a recent visit by a German minister that angered Beijing.
Merz spoke ahead of French President Emmanuel Macron’s trip to China with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. A non-Western diplomat warned that Beijing may attempt to play divide and rule during the visit, potentially luring France away from the United States. Merz also confirmed that his party would support von der Leyen for a second term as president in 2024.