politics

Merkel to Seek China as Free-Trade Ally on Beijing Trip

  • German chancellor to meet Xi, other leaders on May 24
  • China has been Germany’s biggest trading partner since 2016
Angela Merkel Photographer: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she’ll renew efforts to enlist China as an ally on free trade when she visits leaders including President Xi Jinping in Beijing next week.

It’ll be Merkel’s first trip to the world’s second-biggest economy since she began her fourth term in March. While Europe and China have points of friction from investment reciprocity to human rights, they’re finding common cause in rebuffing U.S. President Donald Trump’s tariff threats against both.

“China and Germany are committed to the rules of the World Trade Organization, yet we will also talk about reciprocal access in trade and intellectual property issues,” Merkel said in her weekly podcast published Saturday. “And we want to strengthen multilateralism.”

Merkel plans to meet Xi and other Chinese leaders on May 24, followed by a stop in Shenzhen to tour sites including a Siemens AG facility. She may strike a more reserved tone than French President Emmanuel Macron, who visited China in January and said European nations must stand up to China’s global reach.

Relations with China have always been a balancing act for Merkel, even more so since China overtook the U.S. as Germany’s biggest trading partner in 2016. At the same time, the U.S. and Germany need each other to rein in China’s growing political and economic influence.

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