BERLIN — German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck said Thursday that the United States isn’t pressuring his government to curtail economic links with China in sensitive areas and that Germany has its own reasons to reduce its reliance on Beijing.
U.S. officials’ efforts to charm and cajole Europe into confronting China have apparently born some results with the Dutch government’s Wednesday move to impose export controls on sales of some chip manufacturing equipment to China. Germany is also preparing to remove components by Chinese manufacturers Huawei and ZTE from critical parts of its 5G telecoms infrastructure.
Habeck argued that these initiatives aren’t just following U.S. orders.
“I do not feel or know of any pressure from the United States,” Habeck said. “I believe it is in Germany’s own well-understood interest to have and build up its own sovereignty in areas of critical infrastructure.”
The Green politician, who is also Germany’s economy minister, said that incoming investments would be “carefully” examined “to ensure that they do not jeopardize … public security and order.”
For German investment in China, Habeck said that Berlin is seeking to “break up the cluster risk” of German companies depending too heavily on their business with China. The government wants to encourage companies to diversify their trade relations and will limit state-backed investment guarantees to a maximum of €3 billion per country.
This rule was specifically targeting China because “most investments that go beyond €3 billion take place” there, Habeck said.