Merkel Makes Clear That Germany Will Not Help U.S. in China Trade Fight

Merkel
INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images

The Democratic candidates for president all call for working more closely with allies on pressuring China to give up its unfair trade practices.

That now looks increasingly impractical.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel indicated this week that her country will not join the U.S. in its efforts to pressure China. In an interview with the Financial Times, Merkel accused the U.S. of criticizing China’s practices as “regarding China as a threat simply because it is economically successful.”

From the Financial Times:

“As was the case in Germany, [China’s] rise is largely based on hard work, creativity and technical skills,” she says. Of course there is a need to “ensure that trade relations are fair”. China’s economic strength and geopolitical ambitions mean it is a rival to the US and Europe. But the question is: “Do we in Germany and Europe want to dismantle all interconnected global supply chains . . . because of this economic competition?” She adds: “In my opinion, complete isolation from China cannot be the answer.”

In other words, Merkel dismisses the notion China’s predatory mercantilism played a significant role in its economic growth.

This undercuts President Donald Trump’s rivals’ favorite lines of attack.

“We’re in a position where, if we don’t set the rules, we, in fact, are going to find ourselves with China setting the rules,” Joe Biden said at a Democratic debate in September. “And that’s why you need to organize the world to take on China, to stop the corrupt practices that are underway.”

That’s hard to do when one of the largest U.S. allies takes the position that Merkel has now articulated.

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