Wang Huiyao in Dialogue with Wolfgang Ischinger

May 18 , 2022

[English Video]

 

The ongoing crisis in Ukraine continues to send shock waves through the global economy and threatens regional security in Europe with more geopolitical repercussions to come. Diplomatic activities increased after Easter with British prime minister Boris Johnson and EU chief Ursula Von der Leyen visiting India and a Chinese delegation being dispatched to tour eight Central and Eastern European countries on the ten-year anniversary of China-CECC Cooperation. 2022 also marks the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Germany. Leading an unprecedented three-party coalition, the new German Chancellor Olaf Scholtz has a tremendous role to play in coping with the massive fallout of the Russian-Ukraine conflict and deepening economic ties with China.

Sanctions against Russia are shaking the stability of global finance, energy markets, and supply chains. How will the military end game in Ukraine affect the overall bilateral relationship between China and the European Union as well as German multinational corporate strategies already complicated by the US-China rivalry? How will foreign policies in Berlin and Beijing adapt to changing geopolitical and geo-economic realities? What are the implications for global business and foreign investment in China?

 

On May 18th, CCG and the Agora Strategy Group jointly hosted a dialogue between Wolfgang Ischinger, Honorary Chairman of Agora Strategy Group and former Chairman of Munich Security Conference, and WANG Huiyao, President of the Center for China and Globalization (CCG) and former Counselor to the State Council of the People’s Republic of China. Topics in this discussion revolve around the future development of China-EU and China-Germany relations in an uncertain global environment.

Please see the recorded transcript below:

Host: I’m welcoming you and our panelists, Dr. Henry Wang and Ambassador Ischinger, to today’s virtual discussion on China, Germany, Europe in an uncertain time, a conversation on the intersection of diplomacy and business. During the next hour we want to put a focus on the future relationship between China and Germany, against the background of the fifty-year anniversary of the diplomatic relationships between China and Germany in 2022, and Russian president Putin’s war against Ukraine with tremendous global economic consequences. One question is whether, how and under what circumstances economic ties between the EU, Germany and China will be deepened. Today’s event is co-hosted by the Beijing based think tank, Center for China and Globalization, and Agora Strategy Group, a geopolitical business consultancy based in Munich. Most of all, I am now welcoming our distinguished panelists and speakers.

Ambassador Wolfgang Ischingerwas the founder and honorary chairman of Agora Strategy Group. And Ambassador Ischinger has been the Chairman of the Munich Security Conference for 14 years until the last Munich Security Conference in February this year. Ambassador Ischinger also served as the German ambassador to the United States as well as to the United Kingdom and was deputed to Foreign Minister in Berlin. Before his appointment to Munich Security Conference, he was also a Global Head of Government Relations at Allianz SE for six years, and  served as a supervisory board member in different companies. And I think The Economist magazine once described him as Germany’s best connected former diplomat. Welcome Ischinger.

And I’m also welcoming Dr. Henry, founder and president of the Center for China and Globalization (CCG) and a former Counsellor of China State Council. Furthermore, he is holding different engagements in international institutions. He is a steering committee member of the Paris Peace Forum and a member of the migration advisory board of International Organization of Migration (IOM) of the United Nations, Welcome Dr. Wang.

As for the format, after the introduction, Dr. Wang begins the discussion with Ambassador Ischinger as a dialogue. And afterwards, all our participants will have the chance to raise your questions towards Dr. Wang or to Ambassador Ischinger. You can either type your questions in the chat function, or choose the hand raising function. In about half an hour, you will have the opportunity to switch on your camera and discuss directly with our panelists, and I also encourage you to do so for the advantage of a lively and open debate. And I am now passing over directly to you, Dr. Wang. Thank you very much.

WANG Huiyao: Thank you Jennifer. It’s such a great honor to see Ambassador Ischinger. I know that you just came back from the meeting in Washington and now come to our joint event with Agora Strategy Group. It’s really a great occasion to welcome you to host this important exchange event. We had the honor of having welcomed Ischinger last year and the year before last year at CCG eventsIt’s really a great honor to see you again.

As we all know, you’ve been leading the Munich Security Conference for 14 years. You’ve made it a very important global platform and have really promoted peace and security for the last 14 years. I remember the last time when we had a MSC  conference off line, you were trying to build peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan, prople were saying that maybe you should given  a Noble Peace Prize  for all the great contributions you made. The Munich Security Conference is important not just to security, but also to all important global issues such as climate change, pandemic and sustainable development. It is really great that today we have people attending this event who are really concerned about what global development has been going on. I know that you just came back from your trip to the U.S. and you have also met Dr. Kissinger there, Kissinger is already 99 years old, which is remarkable. In half a century he has pioneered diplomatic relations between the U.S. and China.

Now China, the EU and Germany have such  strong economic ties, since the new chancellor Scholz came into office, president Xi already has three virtual conference calls with him. It shows the importance of this bilateral relations. And since 2016, China has become the largest trading partner for Germany. And Germany is China’s largest trading partner in the EU. They are really intertwined. In 2020, the trade volume between Germany and China has reached over 210 billion. And last year, it nearly reached 250 billion, which increased by about 15%. That’s incredible. Germany has also invested most in China among EU countries. Over 5,000 German enterprises are operating in China, with almost 10000 investment projects, reached $19 billion. It’s a tremendous relationship and what do you think about the economic relations between China, the EU and Germany? And now with all those new developments, with the geopolitical tension due to the Russia-Ukraine War, how can we really steer through this complex situation and continue the cooperation as much as we can? You are the global opinion leader on that, and I really want to seek your advice on this issue.

Wolfgang Ischinger: Thank you Henry so much. It’s a pleasure to be in this program organized by the Agora Strategy Group with CCG. We’ve been partnering for quite a while. You’ve been a regular participant in the Munich Security Conference and in other events which we’ve been organizing around the world. And during my tenure in the past 14 years, the Munich Security Conference has taken pride in having secured a trustful relationship with the Chinese leadership. 20 years ago, a senior Russian participant in Munich. But I think it was even more important that recently we have  regular participation by senior Chinese leaders. As one Chinese curse says that “May you live in interesting times” which is actually to say the uninteresting one is better. But before I comment on that, let me just briefly talk about the Munich Security Conference.

It’s true that I’ve been running the conference and been responsible for its management for the last 14 years. I just want to make sure that everybody who participated in this program understands that I am now not “deserting” or “escaping”. Actually, I’m still on board. The transition, which is currently underway, means that I’m going from the management level to the supervisory board. And I will stay with the organization as the chair of the foundation board.The Munich Security Conference belongs to the foundation. I’ll continue to be personally involved, and in particular with regard to our major partnership and outreach programs.

I was delighted when some years ago, the Chinese Foreign Minister personally took me aside at his first appearance in Munich and said, “Ischinger, for China, the Munich Security Conference is important. This is why I want to assure you that we will always show up with senior spokespersons at your event. China takes this very seriously.”

I was delighted because after foreign minister Wang made this remark, I knew our relationship was untroubled. We seemed at the time to have a perfectly harmonious perspective going forwards. Well, at this moment, we really live in the interesting times. We don’t know when and how a war which is currently ongoing in our neighborhood. Here in Europe, speaking of Ukraine, we’re worried about how this aggression will affect the totality of our relationship. And that brings me completely to the points you raised.

One of the immediate lessons which we Germans had to draw from what has been happening in Ukraine recently is that we were apparently too naive about many things, for example, our energy dependence on Russia. The German mainstream for the last 50 years thought that it was a good idea. In fact, buying oil and gas from Russia was available, cheaper and seems totally reliable. That’s why we support things like the building of pipelines and so on. And we thought that this had worked quite well even during the difficult times of the Cold War. We thought that this energy relationship was more or less untouchable. And it would not be affected by the turmoil of international conflicts etc.

Well, we now have to learn that it is actually not a good idea to have 30, 40 or 50 percent of your energy requirements coming only from one source. We are re-learning the lesson that it’s important to diversify your suppliers if you can. This is of course a very urgent mission for our relationship with Russia, because we are being accused by our own public and by others of buying Russian gas. We’re actually financing Russian aggression against Ukraine. That’s a bitter complaint. And we need to get rid of that.

Now why is this important in the relationship with China? Because the German business community has over the last several decades made itself far more dependent on China than on Russia. Major German automobile manufacturers, for example, sell more automobiles or build more automobiles today in China than anywhere else in the world. 30% up to 40% or so of their overall activities have to do with China. So, there is obviously now that people are trying to figure out what our companies are to learn from the debacle, from the catastrophe, from the difficulty that the war in Ukraine has created for our relationship with Russia.

Don’t we need to diversify our relationship with China? Is it healthy? Or is it going to be a future problem, if at least important elements of our business community are so dependent on their relationship with China?In other words, we are not yet in a German- or European-Chinese crisis, but there is a growing degree of reflection and a growing degree of skepticism by such extensive dependencies are good.

One of the catchwords in our conversation is de-globalization which means bringing production back home etc. Personally, I don’t think that works for a country like Germany which is so totally export-dependent. But I do understand that political leaders and business leaders are now trying to think hard about ways to reduce their exposure on the outside actors including this important relationship with China.

That’s the first point I want to make. And I want to make a brief second point, which has to do directly with Ukraine. When Chinese foreign minister spoke virtually in February at the Munich Security Conference, I was able to ask him a straightforward question: “What about China’s support for the territorial integrity, for the sovereignty of Ukraine?” And foreign minister answered affirmatively: “Yes, of course, China supports territorial integrity of Ukraine, just like China supports the territorial integrity of all other countries. That’s the principle of the UN Charter.” The question I’d like to raise, I think I know the answer, but I’d like to raise this for our discussion, why has China not decided to climb down from the fence on which it has been sitting in this Ukraine conflict? I understand that China has not taken decisions to provide military supplies to Russia, but China has not used its tremendous power, as far as I can see, to exercise a little bit more pressure to influence Russian thinking in terms of ending this war early.

Henry, please tell me if I’m entirely wrong. I cannot imagine that Chinese leaders feel comfortable about this ongoing war, because all the repercussions that this war is creating and will continue to create, are carrying negative consequences to the international order, which is something China needs to uphold. China has a global outreach. It has business connections, economic connections, energy connections around the world. You need to order just as much as we do. You are interested in maintaining a functioning United Nations system,an international system that is rule-based, reliable, and that will provide peace, not conflict, etc.

So, when I look at Chinese interests, including Chinese interests in the South China Sea, and with respect to Taiwan, etc., I would think that this war conducted by Russia against Ukraine can actually not be in the Chinese interest at all. It is strengthening the global role of the US. It is strengthening NATO. China doesn’t like NATO. Many statements have been made by the Chinese leadership about NATO. My question is, why China doesn’t demonstrate to Europe that China is actually on our side. China wants peace, and China should talk to the Russians about the wisdom of ending this war rather sooner than later, in order to go back to business and to go back to a more harmonious relationship.

So, explain to me why China is not using this opportunity.I think the Chinese reputation among European elites would change quite dramatically if China came across as a power of conflict resolution rather than sitting on the fence. Sorry for speaking so long, but that’s the kind of question that I’ve been pondering in my own mind. And I’ve actually been discussing it also with some of my American interlocutors last week, when I was in the United States.

WANG Huiyao: I think you are raising interesting  good questions. And you have presented your thoughts in an articulated and precise way.

There are two parts I want to say. Firstly, I think that you’re absolutely right. As we all know, China has such a strong relationship with Germany. Now China and Germany are both important trade partners. We have a lot of common ground in safeguarding the global trading system and multilateralism, just as you mentioned.And we want to promote the comprehensive agreement of the investment treaty between China and the EU. I know that President Xi, President Macron and Chancellor Scholz mentioned quite a few times they want to promote a comprehensive investment agreement. Regarding the Ukraine crisis, you’re also right. You are a good friend of Mr. Wang Yi. When you were hosting the Munich Security Conference in February, he said very clearly that China respects every country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, Ukraine is no exception. It also applies to China’s own interest and China doesn’t want anybody to invade others’ sovereignty and territory. Many people in the international community probably didn’t read China’s message correctly. But President Xi talked to Macron, to president Biden and even talked to President Putin after the war broke out. He would like to see a peaceful end and wants to tell every president that violence doesn’t work and should not work.

I think that China has made it clear that it isn’t in favor of war. China respects other countries’ sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Chinese ambassador to Ukraine said that China  will never attack Ukraine. And President Xi told President Biden and Chancellor Scholz that China would like to work with the international community to mediate in this crisis and to promote a peaceful end of the war. And I even wrote an op-ed in the New York Times to argue that China might be able to offer Russia an offramp in this crisis.

The only difference is that China doesn’t want to see sanctions. President Xi told President Biden that China and the US are the two largest economies and we should be responsible for the stake of the global economy. And we don’t want to see a recession on top of the pandemic and the Ukraine war. 70% of China’s energy depends on imports. The energy crisis driven up by the Ukraine war is going to cost China hundreds of billions, so is the food crisis. But I think China would like to work with the international community, for example, why couldn’t Germany’s Chancellor Scholz, French President Macron and China’s leadership and US leaders have a new Minsk Moment or let’s have a Seven Party Talks. I am glad to see the UN Secretary General visited Ukraine and Russia, and the Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeperson  tweeted in favor of the Secretary General’s visit.  Here’s a brief look at China’s stance: China doesn’t like war. When talking about sanctions, there are over one thousand Chinese companies now being sanctioned by the US on a regular basis. That’s really what pushed China to Russia to some extent. China wants to work on it. I think the Munich Security Conference could invite seven parties to talk. So as far as I know, China would love to see a peaceful end of this crisis and does not favor the Russian Ukrain war..

Coming back to the dialogue, Ambassador, you’ve been the champion of multilateralism, peace and prosperity building in the last two or three decades, particularly the last 14 years. I know that Germany and France have always been trying to seek European strategic independence. I remember when you were hosting the 2021 Munich Security Conference and Dr. Miao, then as a MSC young leader raised the question at the Munich Security Conference to the UN Secretary General. At that time, both German and France leaders all mentioned China, they would like to cooperate. The French especially want some kind of EU strategic independence. Would the war in Ukraine totally change the situation? I still remember that in the last few years of the Munich Security Conference, CCG has been really very honored to be a partner of the comference. We heard that the EU and European countries may be mediators between China and the US. We were thinking that maybe we could have a tri-party talks and things like that. The EU is different from the US. The EU doesn’t have a territorial dispute with China. Geopolitically, we are so friendly. So what do you think about the trilateral relations between China, the US and the EU? How can we really work together? And maybe the EU can play some positive role in terms of making the two parties together. It is like a modern “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”. How can we do that? You know, the Munich Security Conference could be a leader of that.

Wolfgang IschingerThank you very much, Henry. That’s a great question and a great challenge that you were throwing out. Let me just offer a very blunt response. My impression has been that, especially since I just spent a few days in the United States, speaking to various senators and administration people and so on, China and the United States are mutually obsessed with each other. Americans are obsessed with China, whom they regard as their historic, current and future rival. And China, in my humble opinion, is also being drawn into this voluntarily or being pushed into it by the United States.

Let me explain what I mean. I think that it is difficult for China a to take sides to act in the Ukraine situation in a way that would actually lead us to believe that China is now siding with the United States. That’s not what your leadership wishes to create as an international perception. Because of the sanctions which you mentioned and other difficulties and areas of disagreement and conflict between China and the United States, I think personally, this is really a pity.

I wish that China could think about Ukraine without thinking of the United States. And I wish the United States could follow the advice which Dr. Kissinger has been offering for the last several decades that the United States must learn to coexist and to cooperate with China and not to seek rivalry and conflict, to minimize rivalry and conflict to the greatest extent possible, and to maximize opportunities for cooperation and existence. Unfortunately, the mainstream as I see it, mainstream opinion in Washington, D.C. seems to go not in the direction of Doctor Kissinger’s advice, but seems to go into the direction of putting all our strength in this dispute about power, business and influence with China.

I wish I could think of a meaningful way that we in Europe could help to diffuse these mutual perceptions. And I will certainly use the point you made when we think about how best we can orchestrateour Munich Security Conference activities going forward. Because I think this touch is one of the most fundamental issues of the international system going forward.

No one will be helped, no one’s interests will be really served if this US-Chinese rivalry dominates all other considerations. I think we have extremely important other considerations – nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, climate change, the Arctic, regional conflict in the Middle East and elsewhere, including of course in the Asia, Indo-Pacific region, etc. So, the need to recreate or reanimate a functioning international order with a UN Security Council that can perform its function, and that will not be blocked all at every turn of the road, is certainly our interest. And I hope it’s also in the Chinese interest. So, there are enormous mutually supportive missions ahead, which I hope can be explored together and used. I will stop here. I would have a few other additional comments, but I think it is now time for Jennifer to take over the moderation and allow people to ask questions. Jennifer, please.

Host: Thank you very much. We are coming to a Q&A session now. Thank you very much so far to Dr. Henry Wang and to Ambassador Ischinger for this interesting dialogue. And you have already raised a lot of many important questions which are very striking. At the moment, we have the first question and the question goes to ambassador Ischinger. There are a lot of talks nowadays that after the Ukraine war the US and the EU will impose sanctions on China. And the question is, do you think it would be possible for the US and EU to put such sanctions towards China as the sanction towards Russia at the moment, as the so-called Wood Embargo.

Wolfgang Ischinger: Well, quite frankly, I have never believed that sanctions are, in principle, a panacea, an instrument to solve all our problems. Sanctions can sometimes be helpful to support certain policy objectives, but sanctions themselves rarely solve the problems. I’m very skeptical about sanctions between Europe and China. I’m also skeptical about sanctions between the United States and China. Because it is obvious, if we start slapping sanctions on China, China will have no option but to respond in kind. And I’m not sure that it would serve any purpose.

I think the real question behind this sanctions discussion is the question: can we be assured? And that, again, would be a question for the Chinese leadership, can we be assured that China will not do anything that would weaken our attempt to put maximal pressure on Russia to end this war? Can we be assured that China will not come in as an alternative source either of income or of material, of weapons equipment, etc. Can we be assured that China stays out? This is the minimum requirement to stay out of this terrible catastrophic situation in the heart of Europe. And if we get minimum assurance in that respect, I think sanctions should not even be on the agenda.

I’ll stop here.

Host: Thank you very much. And we then have a second question going out to you Dr. Wang. The question is transferring the experience from Ukraine to possible scenarios for Taiwan. A similar military and economic escalation would be a disaster for world economics, but also for any German investments into Mainland China and Taiwan. What can China and Europe do to minimize the risk of such an escalation in Taiwan?

WANG Huiyao: Thank you, Jennifer. I think this Ukraine war actually has served as a good reminder to everybody, including the US, EU and China. We see that if things are developed into conflict and into war, it’s basically putting the economy and livelihood of people of many countries on hold. And if anything can be learned from this Ukraine war, it is that war is really a last resort and something that people are trying to avoid. So that’s why China sticks to the UN chapter, to respect sovereignty, territorial integrity, and Ukraine cannot be an exception. And China also looks for a more comprehensive security arrangement.

Concerning what is happening now across Taiwan and the South China Sea, we should have no foreign interference in the region and let the people and country in the region to solve things by themselves. Another lesson we learn is that maybe we should not have too many military alliances, like now we see the NATO expansion and also AUKUS in this region which includes Australia, US and UK, and Quad, which includes India, United States, Australia and Japan. These military alliances really bring more tension in this region. We should have more economic alliances like RCEP, CPTPP, AIIB, CAI. That probably would be a good way to build peace in this region, for example, in AIIB India is the largest recipient. It has a vice president in the AIIB. And we should do deeper on the digital agreement with Asia Pacific. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Asia-Pacific welcomed all the good initiatives, all the things that are good for the economic prosperity. That means real business, not the military alliance. That’s something we should avoid in this part of the world.

Host: Thank you very much. Ambassador, do you want to add anything at this point?

Wolfgang Ischinger: No. I think this stands for itself. Thank you very much. Are there any other questions there now?

Host: We had one more question 4 hours ago. General Secretary of NATO Jens Stoltenberg has written on twitter that they have received the application for Finland and Sweden’s membership in NATO. This is a good day at a critical time for our security. Your applications are in a historic step. As we know, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg met with the Swedish and Finish Ambassador this morning, who handed over their application for NATO membership. And the question is to you, Dr. Henry Wang, what is China’s position regarding the NATO membership of these two countries? And how will China react in the face of a stronger NATO? Is this something important in your eyes, from a Chinese perspective?

WANG Huiyao: That’s a question that has been frequently asked these past few days. I just had an interview two days ago when Finland officially announced it joined  NATO. The Finnish journalist just interviewed me on that. I was telling her that basically China doesn’t want to see another Ukraine, or any crisis like that. But we understand what Finnish people are concerned about. The best way to really stabilize that is to really solve this Ukraine crisis as soon as possible. I think that EU leadership, and the US and NATO, should really talk with Russia and find structurally  balanced peace. I don’t know if we can have a new Minsk moment. That’s really important. We cannot wipe out Russia. Russia is there, and it’s a neighbor that you cannot move. Now there are 1,300 km between us, but NATO’s frontier is now to Russia, or to Saint Petersburg is only 100 miles. We don’t want to let this world have more tension and China doesn’t want to see this tension added on. So, Finland and Sweden’s joining NATO doesn’t really solve the problem. The fundamental problem is the conflict between Russia, NATO and the West. Can the UN, EU, China, US and Russia really sit together? Let’s sit at the Munich Security Conference, talk with each other and find a way to get out of that. That’s maybe the right way. Otherwise, I don’t think Russia will go away by building more alliances. This could create even bigger problems. But I understand the Finnish choice on that, because they felt threatened by the Ukraine war. It’s totally understandable, but we don’t want to see another Ukraine. I think that’s the bottom line. Thank you very much.

Host: So, we have one more question going out to you, Ambassador Ischinger. And there is a further question regarding possible sanctions towards China. And the question is: Do I understand correctly what you were recently saying that as long as China is not supporting Russia with material aspect, there will not be a sanction towards China? But we know the US is doing anything they can to contain China. Will the EU follow the US in this direction?

Wolfgang Ischinger: First, let me add a word to the earlier question about Finland and Sweden. The historic dimension of this development needs to be underlined. And I hope that this is also understood among analysts in China. Sweden has been a neutral country for the last 200 years, and it is a historic departure for a country that has such a long-standing tradition to change course and now to join the alliance. Why would they want to do that? Because there is a threat perception. Quite frankly, I would not agree that it is NATO or NATO enlargement that is at the origin of this current tension and conflict with Russia. The last decision that NATO took to enlarge towards the east in the direction of Russia was actually taken in 2004. That’s 18 years ago. And since 2004, the only NATO enlargement decisions that occurred had to do with countries like Croatia, Albania, maybe Montenegro. I cannot imagine that is of any consequence to the security of the Russian Federation, because it is far away from any direct relationship or border with Russia. I think NATO’s argument does not really carry very far when Russia tries to justify or explain the motivations behind the unprovoked and totally illegal aggression against a sovereign neighbor, in this case, Ukraine. My own country, Germany, got rid of most of their classic military equipment over the last 20 or 25 years. We declared ourselves after achieving unification in 1990, we declared ourselves great. We are now only surrounded by friends. Germany has nine neighbors, all of whom we discovered are now our friends because they are either in NATO or in the EU, or in both, or they happen to be Switzerland, which is also a nice neighbor to have. So, we didn’t see any military threat at all and our army was diminished. We spend less and less on defense. So, a shock wave has been created recently, since 2014, but even more dramatically through the events of the last two months.

Now, just very briefly to answer your sanction’s question. Again, I’m not a fan of sanctions in general. I understand that the United States is extremely concerned about Chinese activities that might stand in the way of putting more and more pressure on Russia in this current war situation. I personally do not believe that there is any argument at this point that I have heard that would justify European Union sanctions against Chinese companies or individuals. I hope that this Ukraine conflict situation is not going to result in additional tensions between the United States and China. Again, let me repeat that. I would be very happy to invite everybody to come to Munich next time and try to identify or define a path forward to end the war, to recreate trust and confidence. But this requires the willingness by the Russian leadership to engage. I think one of the few actors in the international arena who could actually influence the Russian leadership to consider engaging with the West is China. I continue to hold on to the hope that not only do we  not need the slam sanctions against China, which I think would be totally counterproductive, but I would hope that China would repeat myself, would climb down from the fence just a little bit, and put a little bit of pressure or talk a little bit more seriously with their friends in Russia. And I think this would be to the advantage, to the benefit of Russia, would be the benefit of Europe, it would be to the benefit of Ukraine, and would certainly be to the benefit of the reputation of China as a force of good and as a responsible global power that is not only trying to maximize its own interests or the pursuit of its own interest, but that has an ability to consider the global commons, the UN principles like conflict prevention and protecting the global commons. That’s what global powers I am supposed to do. So I remain an optimist and will do everything to bring in as many Chinese leaders as we can to keep this discussion open and going forward, instead of taking steps that would only serve to antagonize everybody, like sanctions in the Chinese European relationship, that’s the last thing we need.

Host: I have one last question going out to you, Dr. Wang, regarding trade and investment ties between Europe and China, and also regarding the development of green energy. And after that, I would like to close with a question to both of you, regarding your vision of the future partnership between Germany and China, especially regarding  political and economic ties. But first of all, the last question. So as Europe is trying to shift towards green energy and carbon taxing mechanism, how do you think this will impact European Chinese trade? And how might concerns about climate change be integrated into the economic relationship between both regions? Think enough about that or background of these questions also, how can China envision its trade and investment ties with Europe in a tense political atmosphere?

WANG Huiyao: Thank you. This is really a fascinating question. I think there are enormous business opportunities between China and Germany. For example, just a few months ago, I visited Daimler. They have a new R&D center in Beijing, investing over a billion RMB in clean energy vehicle production and research. China now is the largest clean automobile market. And China is the largest wind power and the largest solar power producer. And all those have a great participation of companies from Germany and from European countries. Now we’re having this energy crisis caused by the Ukraine-Russia conflict. That’s really going to really set us back on other  more polluted fossil energies. So we have a vital interest particularly a lot of technology from European companies that can be really beneficial not only for the Chinese market but also for the German and EU market as well. So I think we have a vast interest working together. And China and the EU, particularly EU, giving the Paris Accord and the climate change leading position, we can really work together. I think there’s tremendous potential for those 5,000 German companies and hundreds of thousands of EU companies in China and vice versa.

Host: Thank you very much. I think that already kind of includes your vision for the future relationship. But maybe in one last sentence, before we close this dialogue and the discussion, maybe it can give us an outlook on your personal vision for the relationship between China and Germany politically and also business vice. In one sentence, by you, Dr. Wang, and then afterwards, for you Ambassador Ischinger.

WANG Huiyao: Thank you. I really want to take this opportunity to thank Ambassador Ischinger. You are the great promoter and great enhancer of the Munich Security Conference and play a huge and enormous role. I’ve been there, witnessed this kind of impact. Now you are still on the board of the Munich Security Conference. What’s your vision for the future of the Munich Security Conference? I hope that China can participate more. Now we really need more peace talks now than ever before. Munich security is going to be even more important in the future. So that would be my last comment. Questions also for Ambassador Ischinger. Thank you.

Wolfgang Ischinger: Great. Let me put it this way. About ten years ago, between 2009 and 2012, the Munich Security Conference was quite proud to be the platform, to be the venue of an important development, which was the Russian-American new starred negotiations about intercontinental, strategic, ballistic warheads. And we were able to provide the climate for the recent button to be pushed in 2009, and for the exchange of the ratification documents between Russia and the United States two or three years later, that was a very positive moment. I am saddened by the fact that during the last conference for which I personally took full responsibility in terms of the speakers and the program and the priorities, which was the conference this year, that the Russian government representatives decided to stay away and not come, because four days later they were going to invade their neighboring country. So this very last conference of mine for me was a sad moment, because it was a failure of our attempt to serve as a catalyst for peaceful conflict resolution efforts. And I hope very much that going forward, we can return to the more positive role that we were able to play a decade ago, that we can help make sure that there will be not the outbreak of military conflicts in the Far East. Because I think my fellow Germans need to understand this is why they need to be interested in what’s going on in China and between China and her neighbors. If there is a conflict that broke out in far away regions of the world, we will be directly affected. We’ve been most directly affected by this Ukrainian conflict that we’re now learning that poor countries in Africa will be devastated by the fact that their grain deliveries from countries like Ukraine will be stopped, will be blocked, are not coming. There will be hunger. There will be all sorts of very serious challenges in terms of poverty and hunger and health going forward, secondary consequences of this ongoing war in Ukraine. That is why I hope very much that we can all work together, we as an informal non-governmental platform, but that we can work with responsible government leaders China, the United States, Europe, and hopefully at some point in the future, again, certainly also with Russia, in order to make sure that we do the right thing and built confidence building measures, engage in arms control and conflict resolution programs and help people understand each other better. That’s the purpose. That’s the original purpose of the entire Munich Security idea. And I want to close with the point that without active participation by China, by the Chinese leadership and by Chinese thinkers, just like you Henry, we could not perform this mission at all in the 21st century. So I’m delighted to have this link to China, and we want to build on it going forward. Thank you very much.

Host: Thank you very much to our distinguished speakers. Doctor Henry Wang from the Center for China and Globalization. And also, thank you very much to Ambassador Wolfgang Ischinger, former chairman of the Munich Security Conference and also founder and honorary chairman of the Agora Strategy Group, for this live discussion today. And also for all your encouraging ideas and towards our political and also to our business leaders in both countries, Germany and China, as well as the European Union, for further dialogue and for finding solutions and ideas towards all our diligence we’re facing today. Thank you very much. And I’m already looking very much for it in the next conversation. And thanks for taking your time. Also, to all our participants, and thank you very much for taking part in the discussion. Thank you very much for your questions.

Note: The above text is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. It is posted as a reference for the discussion.

 

 

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