China hawk enters contest to replace Merkel

Norbert Ro ttgen

Norbert Röttgen — a nightmare for China?
Image © Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

The South China Morning Post reports:

On Tuesday, Norbert Röttgen, one of the fiercest China hawks in Germany’s parliament, the Bundestag, entered the contest to be picked as the ruling Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party’s next chairman, potentially turning Berlin and the European Union’s leading economy into a foe for Beijing.

For months, Röttgen, head of the Bundestag’s foreign affairs committee, has led a campaign of intense activism against a bid by Chinese telecoms supplier Huawei Technologies to capture a major role in next-generation 5G mobile networks in Germany…

Röttgen’s lack of a strong base within the party is seen by German politicians as a potential obstacle to his ambitions of prevailing in the leadership race.

However, the complex process that is used to select the next CDU leader makes it difficult to predict the winner, especially because past CDU leadership contests have usually been less competitive than the current one.

When it comes to EU-China relations, Germany plays an outsize role. Not only is Germany the biggest economy in the union, but Merkel has generally taken a non-confrontational diplomatic tone with China, acting as a buffer against what could have been a joint EU-U.S. effort to curtail China.

The world might be a very different place by the end of this year.

—Jeremy Goldkorn