BERLIN – German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed on Wednesday her support for multilateralism and bolstering of Transatlantic relations, and voiced her preference for maintaining dialogue with growing international player China.
In a wide-ranging speech in the Bundestag (Germany’s lower chamber of lawmaking) in the context of a general debate on the 2020 budget, Merkel said China had undergone an economic boom and it had a “growing responsibility in the world order.”
“Germany does well in maintaining a dialogue with China,” in which a “difference of opinions” also has a place, she said.
The chancellor said upholding human rights standards was paramount for Germany and regarding the situation in Hong Kong, Berlin continues to defend the principle of “one country, two systems,” Merkel said.
Germany has enjoyed bilateral relations with China since 1972, which the German government describes as “good and amicable.”
China is Germany’s “most important economic partner” in Asia, according to the European nation’s foreign office.
Last year, trade between the two economic powerhouses totaled 199.3 billion euros ($219.5 billion), according to data from the Federal Statistical Office.
Merkel made reference to the United States, which remains a “superpower” with which Europe feels united over a system of shared values.
She called for the Transatlantic alliance to be strengthened.
The rivalry between China and the United States and the resurgence of Russia was having an impact on Europe and it was time to renew efforts on this front, she said.
Closer to home, the chancellor expressed her support for an orderly withdrawal from the European Union by the United Kingdom, though reiterated that Germany was prepared for any eventuality when it came to Brexit.
For the chancellor, it was important that Europe concentrated efforts on resolving conflicts in the world. “No country in the world can solve its problems alone,” in defense of multilateral approaches.
Merkel also made a call for efforts to tackle the climate crisis.
She said Germany has met its 2010 climate goals, would not be able to meet the 2020 ones and would now take measures in order to achieve those set out for 2030.
Efforts to counter climate change and protect the planet costs money, she said, but not taking it on would be even more costly.
“Doing nothing is not an option,” the chancellor said.