Don’t shun China, urges Merkel at American prize ceremony

(L-R) Former US State Secretary Henry A. Kissinger and German Chancellor Angela Merkel shaking hands, American Academy Trustee Gerhard Casper, Former United States Secretary of State John Kerry during the Henry A. Kissinger prize at the Great Orangery at Charlottenburg Palace in Berlin, Germany, 21 January 2020. [Omer Messinger/EPA/EFE]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday (21 January) urged Western global powers to include China in their multilateral system and treat Beijing equally rather than freeze it out and risk slipping into a Cold War-style bipolar order.

Speaking after receiving a prize at the American Academy in Berlin, attended by former US Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger (96) and John Kerry, Merkel said China’s economic success posed challenges.

“Of course we also have to build up fairness, of course we have to practise multilateralism such that the rules apply to everyone,” she said.

“But I plead for us not to fall into a new bipolarity, but rather that we try, with the results and experiences we have, to include a country like China in multilateralism and treat it at least equally,” she added.

Germany’s export-dependent manufacturers have faced increased headwinds from a trade dispute between the United States and China. A truce in the row has boosted German investor morale.

Merkel is planning an EU-China summit when Germany takes the EU’s rotating six-month presidency in the second half of this year, and wants to keep up Germany’s lucrative trade ties with China without antagonising the United States.

She is under pressure from Washington to exclude China’s Huawei – which President Donald Trump’s administration considers a security threat – from Germany’s 5G rollout.

Shenzhen-based Huawei has denied the Trump administration’s suggestion.

The American Academy in Berlin awarded Merkel its Henry A. Kissinger Prize for her services to the transatlantic relationship.

“I will, still for a while as chancellor, carry on working for good, intensive, grounded trans-Atlantic relations,” she said.

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