China has summoned Germany’s ambassador to Beijing following remarks by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock in which she referred to President Xi Jinping as a “dictator.” This development highlights the growing tensions between the two nations, despite their significant trade relationship.
Baerbock made these comments during an interview on Fox News while visiting the United States, where she expressed concerns about the Ukraine war. She stated, “If Putin were to win this war, what signal would that send to other dictators around the world, like Xi, the Chinese President? Therefore, Ukraine must prevail in this conflict.”
In response to these remarks, a spokesperson from the German Foreign Ministry confirmed that Germany’s ambassador had been summoned to the Chinese Foreign Ministry on Sunday. This action followed China’s earlier statement expressing strong dissatisfaction with Baerbock’s comments.
China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Mao Ning, described Baerbock’s remarks as “extremely absurd” and a serious affront to China’s political dignity. She labeled them an open political provocation during a daily news briefing.
This incident is not the first of its kind. In June, Beijing reprimanded the US ambassador to China when President Joe Biden also referred to President Xi as a “dictator.” During her visit to New York, Baerbock only noted China’s protests but did not elaborate further. The German government spokesperson declined to comment on Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s perspective on the remarks.
This marks the third recent occasion that China has summoned Germany’s ambassador. Earlier, China took similar action when Germany’s education minister visited Taiwan in March, marking the first cabinet-level German visit to the island in 26 years. China asserts its claim over Taiwan and has been intensifying pressure on the self-governing, democratic island.
Additionally, the German ambassador was summoned after a statement by G7 foreign ministers concerning Taiwan in August 2022, during Germany’s presidency of the group.
Germany is adopting a more assertive stance towards China, as evidenced by its new policy published in July, characterizing China as a “partner, competitor, systemic rival.” This policy reflects a delicate balance within the German coalition government, with Baerbock advocating for a tougher stance on human rights while Scholz supports a more trade-friendly approach.
Concerns are also growing in Berlin regarding potentially risky Chinese investments within Germany and the heavy dependence of German businesses on trade with China. Recent actions include blocking a Chinese takeover of a satellite startup on national security grounds and blocking the sale of two chipmakers to Chinese investors due to security concerns.
(with inputs from agencies)