Politicians are selfish to throw businesses into geopolitical vortex
Published: May 17, 2021 08:41 PM
Illustration: Xia Qing/GT

Illustration: Xia Qing/GT

Due to the fabricated human right issue relating to Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region which some Western politicians have been playing up as a means to vilify China, German companies may move to limit their activities or completely leave Xinjiang after Germany's new supply chain law come into effect, according to German media reports on Monday.

Once the law comes into force, German companies could face government fines up to 2 percent of their annual revenue if their contractors abroad are found to breach human rights or environmental rules, and certain employees may even need to bear individual criminal liability, reports said.

Hyping up baseless lies about Xinjiang, the Green Party of Germany has reportedly called on German firms to "take sides." The assessment even called over leading German multinationals including Adidas, Puma, BMW, Bosch, Siemens, Volkswagen and BASF, which have deep-rooted ties with the Chinese market.

It is not the first time that Western politicians try to use the human right issue as guise to confront China to advance their own political interests; and it is simply not about protecting human rights at all. However, by pulling the German multinationals into the geopolitical spat, some politicians have brought the firms from Germany's leading industries with high risks.

Taking Volkswagen as an example, the firm is a representative for Germany's pillar auto industry and has thrived in China over the past decades, with sales in China accounting for nearly 40 percent of its total sales in the world. During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the company even poured 2.1 billion euro into the country to enhance its investment in the world's largest auto market.

Not only Volkswagen, the huge Chinese market has been boosting the growth of more than 5,200 German companies which are operating in the world's second largest economy. If any of these firms have to take sides and leave China market, it will be very unfortunate for their bottom line.

Can these firms be able to lose the market, during the post-pandemic era when China is leading the recovery of global economy? The answer is clear.

In fact, Germany and China have enjoyed high economic complementarities. In 2020, Germany recorded a GDP contraction of 6.8 percent and a trade decline of 9.3 percent; however, its trade with China grew 3 percent to reach 212.1 billion euro. Not only that China has become Germany's largest trading partner for five consecutive years, China also becomes Germany's second largest export destination for the first time.

Led by the US' anti-China campaign, the so-called human right violations in Xinjiang is a fiction being played up by Western anti-China forces to contain China's economic development. However, it is the businesses and institutions which are enjoying beneficial ties with China that will have to bear economic losses.

It is normal for countries with close economic exchanges to encounter some disputes, but some German politicians, who trying to kidnap German businesses into geopolitical wrestling and making them pay for a lie, are very selfish. 

The article was compiled based on an interview with Li Gang, an associate professor at the Institute of European Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
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