What Merkel Really Thinks About China—and the World

What Merkel Really Thinks About China—and the World

Europe’s year-end investment deal with Beijing is a clear window into the German chancellor’s foreign-policy worldview.

Last year, I asked a diplomat who had worked closely with Angela Merkel for many years to sum up the German leader’s views on China. I was expecting to hear a list of concerns about the country’s authoritarian tilt under Xi Jinping, the plight of the Uighurs, and the role of the state in the Chinese economy.

Instead, the diplomat talked about Merkel’s admiration for China’s economic achievements and her appreciation of the role Beijing had played during Europe’s financial crisis a decade ago, when China bought the bonds of ailing eurozone member states and provided a market in which German firms could continue to thrive. “She has not forgotten this,” I was told.

I was reminded of this conversation in recent weeks as news emerged that Merkel, now in her 16th and final year as chancellor, was pushing other EU member states to approve a major investment agreement with China.