Germany’s Habeck blames China’s Russia support for worsening Berlin-Beijing relations

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German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck on Saturday pointed to China’s support for Russia in the war against Ukraine as the main reason for deteriorating economic relations between Berlin and Beijing, as he reiterated warnings about the economic consequences of Beijing’s backing for Moscow’s war effort.

“It is also important for China, which is supporting Russia in this war, to understand that German and European security interests are already directly affected by this conflict,” Habeck said at the opening of a China-Germany High-Level Dialogue on Climate Change and Green Transition in Beijing, Bloomberg reported.

This is Habeck’s first visit to China during his tenure, amid worsening uncertainty facing German-Chinese trade ties. It comes as the EU and China are engaged in an escalating trade war, with the EU slapping tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles and Beijing launching an anti-dumping probe into EU pork products.

“It is important to understand that these are not punitive tariffs,” Habeck said, contrasting the EU measures with those implemented by countries such as the U.S., Brazil and Turkey, according to a Reuters report. Habeck said that for nine months, the European Commission had examined in great detail whether Chinese companies had benefited unfairly from subsidies.

The proposed EU tariffs are intended to level the playing field with China, Habeck told Zheng Shanjie, chairman of China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). Habeck also told Shanije that if Beijing didn’t support Russia’s war, Europe and Germany wouldn’t be reducing their dependency on China for raw materials, according to the reports.

Habeck reiterated Europe’s willingness to talk to China about the tariffs on imports of Chinese electric vehicles, adding that the measures are meant to compensate for the advantages granted to Chinese companies by Beijing.

The state-run China Global Television Network reported that the NDRC’s Shanije said the EU-imposed tariffs benefit no one and will eventually backfire.