Germany is struggling to pick sides in the escalating dispute between the U.S. and China over issues ranging from trade to human rights, amid mounting American pressure and Beijing’s authoritarian drift.
Of all advanced economies outside Asia, Germany has the deepest economic ties in both camps and would have the most to lose from a Cold War between Washington and Beijing.
Berlin’s snaking trade links with China and the U.S. have served Germany well in the past two decades, providing it with steady growth, near full employment and full public coffers that have allowed the deployment of more than €1 trillion ($1.13 trillion) in measures to support its economy during the pandemic.
Now, Germany’s reluctance to take sides is diluting Europe’s broader efforts to present a united front to China, undermining the bloc’s power to shape a new global architecture.
The U.S. helped build modern Germany, and the two countries have been bound since the end of World War II by shared values, democratic institutions, and a web of international agreements and partnerships.