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Mrs Angela Merkel’s sixth trip to China:German Chancellor with tied hands?

Posted by on 2012/09/05. Filed under Breaking News,Opinions. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

By Tao Peng

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has visited the People’s Republic of China due to the second Sino-German government consultations from 30 to 31 August 2012. In this context, many Chinese dissidents expected that Mrs Merkel would be energetically at work for human rights and political reform in China on this occasion. But they are wrong. Apart from the collection of billionaire orders from China and praise for the performance or willingness of China to overwhelm the Euro Crisis, German Chancellor Merkel has done almost nothing for the human rights violations or for a political transformation in China. Her notes to the Chinese government were quieter and more cautious than ever.

New Transformation in China

Since February this year, a political and social turbulence in China can be observed. The once powerful party chief of Chongqing, Bo Xilai, was overthrown on charges of corruption, criminal activity and violation of Party discipline. He is one of the victims of the sharpened power struggle of the Communist Party (CCP), which will makes its power exchange in Beijing this autumn. This event causes the outrage and mistrust of citizens towards the Chinese government and reflects the growing social problems and discrepancies (such as big difference between rich and poor, endemic corruption and serious conflicts between citizens and the state) that have sparked heated debate and controversy within the CCP about political directions. Because of this reason, many people of the civil society, academia and even the government appeal to the political leadership in Beijing to implement necessary reforms of the existing political system immediately, which is the root cause of the political and social problems and conflicts in China. But the appeal is always ignored by the party leadership. The regime continues its old policy and intends no serious changes in the authoritarian system that violates human rights, creates social inequality and causes political unrest. In this respect, the Chinese reformers and dissidents put their hope in the Western countries that they would vigorously ask the Beijing leadership to political reform and to respect for human rights in their dealings with China.

The cold shoulder of Mrs Merkel

And this hope is lost in the sixth China Travel of German Chancellor Merkel. Not in favour of the great expectation of Chinese dissidents, Mrs Merkel only gave the Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei who is China’s public enemy number 1 the cold shoulder during her visit to Beijing. A meeting between German Chancellor and Ai Weiwei, which the artist earnestly wished for, was not held in Beijing. In connection to the gratuitous harassment of the Chinese security force against the German journalists who wrote a protest letter to her before her Trip to China, Mrs Merkel spoke in a quiet and low sound that absolutely could not embarrass or annoy the Chinese leadership. During the visit of the German Chancellor in China many dissidents and critics disappeared or were put under house arrest by the Chinese government. The German Chancellor has also done nothing against it, not even she has made mention of human rights violations in China publicly. She simply pushed the “intervention” against the violation of human rights in China to the so-called forthcoming “dialogue on the rule of law and human rights” between the two countries, which has been rarely used and has mostly led to nothing. Obviously, the German Chancellor went to China this time not to struggle for human rights and democracy, but to gather the billions of orders from the Chinese government and to overcome the Euro Crisis with the help of the Chinese. This lacks a relentless fighter for freedom and democracy who addressed the persecution of dissidents openly, received the Dalai Lama in the German Chancellery in spite of fair protest of the Chinese leadership and campaigned for the release of detained artist Ai Weiwei.

The German Chancellor with tied hands

The reasons for the politics of flattering towards the Chinese regime of Mrs Merkel are obvious: the German economy and the European Union, which threatens to fall apart due to the Euro Crisis or even to downfall, need billions in contracts and investments by Communist China. Towards their wish, the People’s Republic of China has contributed much to rescue the Euro Crisis and to invest in Europe as the Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao proudly mentioned at a press conference in Beijing on 30/08/2012. In addition to the newly issued orders in the billions, the Chinese has been involved in international relief efforts to resolve the euro debt problems and still want to put additional capital in the amount of 43 billion U.S. dollars at disposal of “The International Monetary Fund (IMF).” Moreover, China has invested in the euro government bond markets as well as in the EFSF and would be willing to better coordinate  “with the ECB, the IMF and the euro-area member states” to support the heavily indebted countries in the euro zone to overcome their crisis. Consequently, German Chancellor has to be thankful for the contributions of the People’s Republic of China and thus to curry favour with the communist leadership in Beijing. And the pressure of the German economy whose representatives doesn’t like to see that the German Federal Government exerts too much criticism of Beijing’s questionable handling of human rights to get problems for German companies in China and the situation of hopeless Euro Crisis let German Chancellor Merkel no other choice but to cooperate trustfully with the Chinese leadership and to dispense with the actions to put China in the pillory for its human rights violations. So you can probably understand the behaviour of German Chancellor Merkel because she is under enormous pressure. Her hands are firmly tied together by the economic interest of Germany and the financial crisis in the euro zone. She curries favour with China not from the heart, but to be forced and under pressure.

But not at any price

However, there is no reason for a policy of capitulation of democratic values and for a strategy of silence about human rights issues. The economic interests of Germany and the rescue of the Euro Crisis must not be achieved at any cost. The demand for democracy and human rights is essential for the German and European foreign policy. The German Federal Government should not give up its role as a shooter and propagator of freedom and democracy under pressure of the economic crisis. China needs Germany and Europe, not only in terms of economic cooperation. China needs democracy and human rights. The Chinese reformers and dissidents who want a rule of law in China urgently need political support from the German government and the European Union. Especially in this day and age in which a political and social upheaval in China is going on, the Chinese democrats are especially dependent on external political backing of the West. German Chancellor Angela Merkel should think seriously about whom and what she stands for or represents.

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