Comment: German industry must not underestimate the China risk
When German industry talks about problems in China these days, it’s mostly about short-term disruptions – for example lockdowns that make production more difficult or port closures that disrupt global logistics chains. On the other hand, hardly anyone paints the horror scenario of an economic isolation of the People’s Republic from the West.
Optimism reigns in the executive floors that the ties on both sides are too close to be able to do without each other because of political differences. However, this is naïve, as the war in Ukraine shows. For decades, German industry has made itself dependent on Russian gas supplies – which is now having a bitter revenge because Russia is using its gas as a means of political pressure.
The extent to which this situation was foreseeable is irrelevant today. It is more important that the mistakes of the past are not repeated. Every company that currently creates a significant part of its added value with Chinese customers and suppliers must therefore now ask itself this question at the latest: What happens if the country develops from an economic partner to a political opponent?
The list of potential conflicts is long
There are already indications of this development today: starting with the dispute over sovereignty in the South China Sea, human rights violations in the province of Xinjiang, and a possible armed conflict over the Republic of Taiwan, which the government in Beijing regards as its own sovereign territory . In all cases, the West and Beijing hold diametrically opposed positions.
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If just one of these conflicts escalated, the consequences for the German economy would be several dimensions greater than the loss of Russian gas supplies. Anyone who fails to prepare for these long-term risks now is acting with gross negligence – and thus losing the moral right to financial support from the state if barriers should one day arise between Europe and China.
More: After industry, now science – Germany is distancing itself from China