German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday rejected calls for Europe to pick sides between the U.S. and China, in a nod to the plea made by Chinese President Xi Jinping a day earlier.
While the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden is looking to group together democracies to contain China, Merkel was pointedly wary about the formation of factions.
“I would very much wish to avoid the building of blocs,” Merkel told the Davos World Economic Forum. “I don’t think it would do justice to many societies if we were to say this is the United States and over there is China and we are grouping around either the one or the other. This is not my understanding of how things ought to be.”
Referring to Xi’s speech at the same forum, Merkel said: “The Chinese president spoke yesterday, and he and I agree on that. We see a need for multilateralism.”
“But there is one question where we are not in immediate agreement. Probably the question of what it means when you have different social models. When does interference begin and where does it end? When do you stand up for elementary values that are indivisible?” she said.
Merkel said she was “so satisfied” with the EU-China investment agreement, citing reciprocity, transparency on Chinese state subsidies, and the opening up of “more predictable access to … state-of-the-art technology” in China.
She also called on the new U.S. administration led by Biden — with whom she spoke on phone on Monday — to find common ground with the EU on taxing digital companies.
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