2020 has not only been marked by Covid-19 but also seen major geopolitical disruptions. A key example is the emerging cold war between the US and China. This systemic rivalry has forced policymakers to rethink their China policies. Against this backdrop a high-level EU-China virtual summit took place on Monday, 14 September. It was co-chaired by European Council President Charles Michel and General Secretary Xi Jinping. The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also joined the online meeting.
In his commentary in Foreign Policy from 15 September 2020 Dr Andreas Fulda has pointed out that "Merkel wanted to leave the political scene with a landmark European Union-China summit in Leipzig, where she had studied physics at the then-named Karl Marx University in the mid-1970s. Merkel had pinned her hopes on signing a historic investment treaty that would level the field for European business in China. It wasn’t meant to be. As a result of COVID-19, the gathering was reduced to a one-day virtual summit." Dr Fulda further observed that "the televised press conference following the two-hour virtual summit provided remarkable insights into Merkel’s approach to China. In her six-minute statement, Merkel talked about Hong Kong, minorities, and human rights for a mere 10 seconds. The characteristically stoic chancellor was far more animated when talking about the improved chances to sell German wine and beer following the EU-China agreement on geographical indications, which took up half a minute of her statement."
In an op-ed for the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) from 1 July Dr Fulda has critiqued the way German foreign policy towards China is formulated: "Since German foreign policy is a highly elitist affair, corporate lobbyists have ample opportunities to shape the government’s strategy towards China. One has to bear in mind that Germany’s political economy is highly corporatist. The revolving door between the world of German politics and car manufacturers is very well documented. This means that corporate interests will always loom large when Germany’s China policy is being discussed, almost always away from the public’s gaze." In another op-ed for RUSI from 11 September 2020 he commented on the German government's new guidelines on the Indo-Pacific: "While the newly published document does indicate that Germany's regional focus is gradually shifting from China to other parts of the Indo-Pacific, the new policy announcement offers no critical self-reflection about existing shortcomings of Berlin’s previous China engagement."
Dr Fulda is frequently invited to write op-eds on Germany's pivotal role in EU-China relations. He offered his take on Sino-German relations in a contribution to the SOAS blog on 22 January 2020. Following the initially botched response to Covid-19 he highlighted what Germany can learn from Taiwan in an op-ed for CommonWealth on 9 June 2020. In another op-ed for The Conversation from 12 June 2020 he made the case for a more assertive Western China policy. Dr Fulda reiterated his critique of Germany's mercantilist approach to China in a letter to the editor for The Times on 3 July 2020.
Dr Fulda takes on evolving Western China policies have been extensively quoted in media reports, including Formiche (26 May 2020 and 2 June 2020), Welt am Sonntag (7 June 2020), Bremen 2 (9 June 2020), Radio Free Asia (10 June 2020, 11 June 2020, 25 June 2020, 26 June 2020, 28 August 2020, 2 September 2020, 15 September 2020), Liberty Times Net (17 June 2020), The News Lens (25 June 2020, 29 June 2020), Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (11 June 2020), Deutsche Welle (30 June 2020, 1 July 2020, 27 July 2020, 14 September 2020), Radio Taiwan International (2 July 2020), StratNewsGlobal (3 July 2020), Business Insider (23 July 2020), RedactionPolitics (23 July 2020), Express (29 July 2020, National Review (31 July 2020), South China Morning Post (31 July 2020, 15 September 2020), The Times (31 August 2020), Apple Daily (3 September 2020, 4 September 2020), Storm Media Group (3 September 2020), iAsk.ca (3 September 2020), yahoo! news (15 September 2020), Voice of America (15 September 2020), and The Diplomat (15 September 2020).
Dr Fulda regularly comments on current Chinese affairs on Twitter (@AMFChina). Among his more than 18,000 followers are many leading academics, journalists, and politicians. Between January 2019 and September 2020 his tweets have generated more than thirty million impressions. Particularly noteworthy threads can be accessed via https://threader.app/@amfchina.
Posted on Monday 5th October 2020