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Business News/ News / World/  India, Germany may set up formal dialogue on China-related matters

India, Germany may set up formal dialogue on China-related matters

China has been Germany’s top trading partner since 2016 with a bilateral trade relationship that crossed $320 billion in 2022.

Philipp Ackermann, Germany’s Ambassador to IndiaPremium
Philipp Ackermann, Germany’s Ambassador to India

New Delhi: India and Germany are considering establishing a formal bilateral dialogue to discuss issues related to China. According to persons aware of the matter, both sides are considering the possibility of holding this China-focused dialogue annually.

This development comes after years of mounting concern over China’s aggressive foreign policy and punitive economic sanctions. While India has been locked in a tense border confrontation with its northern neighbour since 2020, Germany has also moved towards a less benign view of Chinese foreign policy in recent years.

China has been Germany’s top trading partner since 2016 with a bilateral trade relationship that crossed $320 billion in 2022. The challenge of balancing cooperation and competition has pushed Berlin to debate and draft a new China strategy, which it is set to launch later this year.

The first iteration of such a dialogue between India and Germany took place in September last year when Germany’s Director-General for Asia and the Pacific, Petra Sigmund, visited New Delhi.

Officials said that the discussion, which was advertised as a dialogue on Germany’s Indo-Pacific policy, included a considerable focus on China’s foreign policy in the region.

“For us, China is a very bigpiece of our foreign policy, not least because we are doing so much business with China and that’s something that will not stop from one day to the other," said Philipp Ackermann, Germany’s Ambassador to India, in an interview. “But at the same time, we see that China has some very problematic elements. So it’s not only a partner, it’s also a rival. And it’s also a competitor."

India’s expertise on China is of particular interest to Germany. “We listen very attentively when Indians tell us about China. China is your neighbour. You have another exposure to China than us and I think India has a very, very solid China expertise. I think there is a lot to learn from India when it comes to China," Ackermann said.

Ackermann confirmed that New Delhi and Berlin are considering setting up a formal dialogue on China. The conversation, he indicated, came up during the meetings between German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock and external affairs minister S Jaishankar.

“That’s what basically two foreign ministers have debated and we are in the midst of reflecting on which level and how regular that will be. So I think you can be sure that at some stage, they will be far more formalised," Ackermann said on the future possibilities on a dialogue between New Delhi and Berlin on China.

High level political ties between the two countries have become commonplace. Baerbock has visited India twice in the last six months while Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited India in February 2023.

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Published: 23 Mar 2023, 11:45 PM IST
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