BERLIN, Nov 17 (Reuters) – Germany can go first have been naive in some places of cooperation with China, but should don’t cut all connections in response to rising tensions, Chancellor Angela Merkel told Reuters.
Merkel’s strategy of engagement has led China to become Germany’s top trading partner during her 16 years in office, and has shaped Europe’s position on Asia rising superpower, even in the midst of worries over dishonest competition and industrial espionage.
“Maybe we were a bit too naive at first in our approach to some collaborative partnerships,” Merkel said in an interview. “Nowadays we look more closely, and rightly so.”
Merkel, who did not stand for re-election last September and will leave office once a new government agreed, said Germany and more in the European Union in general should still keep working together with China, and could learn from one another.
“Total disconnection wouldn’t be good” in mine view, it would be harmful for us,” she said.
China became Germany’s largest trade partner in 2016 and the rapid economic expansion fueled the Germans growth throughout her tenure. But some critics say Germany is too dependent now on China, and getting too soft on Beijing on difficult issues such as human rights violations.
Merkel’s government has said she always deals with human rights issues on her official visits to Beijing – of of which there have been no fewer than 12 – and has sought to diversify trade in Asia.
Merkel said Germany was constantly busy in discussions with Beijing on intellectual property and patent protection, “both with met pertaining to Chinese students in Germany and German companies operating in China”.
They also said western democracies die tried to formulate ethical standards for new technologies had to stay informed of innovation in to understand their impact.
“At the moment, that’s not the case in Europe in areas such as quantum computers and artificial intelligence,” she said. “China and in many areas the US is better.”
But Merkel said the state still needs to protect its state critical infrastructure, pointing to a new German IT security law that sets high thresholds for creators of equipment for nextgeneration of telecommunications networks, such as China’s Huawei.
“However, I always think it is important to emphasize that individual companies should not be excluded from the outset.”
Merkel is now acting in a capacity of caretaker in waiting for the formation of An new coalition government, some of whose potential members advocate An tougher line on China.
“We need an open system in where everyone is judged by the same standards,” she said.
Report Andreas Rinke; Writing by Sarah Marsh; Editing by Kevin Liffey
Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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