China Expert at Maischberger: "That would mean the end of VW" Sandra Maischberger discussed the German-Chinese relationship with her guests on Tuesday evening. Publicist Gabor Steingart explained why he would have liked to see Friedrich Merz in the costume of a speed skater. And a wildlife filmmaker shared his survival story of a bear attack. That was the topic.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz hosted Chinese Premier Li Qiang and his cabinet for government consultations in Berlin. These were the first meetings between the two countries at the highest government level in five years.
The panel at Sandra Maischberger's show debated how Germany should handle the major power in the future. The close economic interdependence, in particular, could become problematic in a conflict situation. Other topics discussed were the controversial statements made by former speed skater Claudia Pechstein at the CDU Future Congress, as well as how people deal with native wildlife in Germany, such as wolves.
That was the highlight of the evening.
How should we approach China now? Taking a firm stance or acting diplomatically? It's probably no surprise that Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann prefers the former. "If we curl up (...), if we start to be afraid of our own courage in advance and stop our ship from sailing, I consider that a very disastrous signal." Specifically, it was about the passage of a German naval ship through the Taiwan Strait, which, according to the FDP politician, a former German defense minister had refrained from due to considerations for China. For Strack-Zimmermann, this was unacceptable as it concerns international waters.
Felix Lee also agreed: not curling up, but negotiating toughly. "We don't need to hide from the Chinese. The Chinese are also tough in their negotiations." He found behavior like Scholz's "peace, joy, and pancakes" approach to be "almost more damaging in dealing with China."
That was the debate of the evening.
In another dialogue, the liberal politician and the China expert held completely opposing views. The expert questioned the purpose of the many visits by Western politicians supposedly in support of Taiwan. He believed that more help could be provided through concrete matters at the ministerial level "rather than symbolic visits" like Strack-Zimmermann's. The liberal politician didn't want to leave it at that. "It was an invitation," she clarified. And it had been extended repeatedly for a year. She believed it was important to meet on-site to discuss specific issues.
Lee also criticized the visit of former US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, which was followed by a Chinese military maneuver around Taiwan. "Are you comparing me to Nancy Pelosi?" Strack-Zimmermann couldn't help but laugh. She took the criticism in stride.
What else was discussed on Maischberger's show?
The speech by former speed skater Claudia Pechstein at the CDU Future Congress in a police uniform. For Schulz, the uniform was secondary. She was outraged that Pechstein equated people who appeared to be of foreign origin with rejected asylum seekers, which some people fear in public transportation. "That is a racist statement," said Schulz.
Gabor Steingart didn't want to accuse Pechstein of racism. Athletes simply don't express themselves as polished as professional politicians. The uniform, the publicist found rather amusing. A bit like carnival: "I would have found it consistent if Friedrich Merz had appeared in the costume of a speed skater." The remark was well received. His main criticism of Pechstein's speech was that she mixed a serious issue like asylum with trivial matters like criticism of gender-neutral language.
What Else Was Discussed on Maischberger?
Claudia Pechstein's speech at the CDU Future Congress in a police uniform. For Schulz, the uniform was secondary. She was outraged that Pechstein allegedly equated people who appeared to be of foreign origin with rejected asylum seekers, whom some people fear in public transportation. "That is a racist statement," Schulz said. Gabor Steingart didn't want to accuse Pechstein of racism. Athletes simply don't express themselves as polished as professional politicians. The uniform amused the publicist. It was a bit like carnival: "I would have found it consistent if Friedrich Merz had appeared in a speed skater's costume." The remark was well received. His main criticism of Pechstein's speech was that she mixed a serious issue like asylum with trivial matters like criticizing gender-neutral language.
How Sandra Maischberger Performed
What is better in dealing with Beijing - taking a firm stance like Baerbock or showing respect as demanded by China itself? With this clever question, Maischberger triggered a series of responses from her conversation partners. Towards Strack-Zimmermann, who is not afraid to speak her mind, Maischberger later dropped her velvet gloves. "Why are you playing with fire?" she asked the liberal politician about her visit to Taiwan. Was it really necessary considering the tense situation between China and the island nation, which Beijing considers part of its mainland? The response from the FDP politician didn't convincingly address the question.
This is the conclusion.
Germany and China: If it were a relationship in the classical sense, the description "It's complicated" would fit the situation quite well. On one hand, there are systemic differences, and on the other, there are economic interests and interdependencies. On one hand, China did not condemn the Russian attack on Ukraine and may be supplying essential goods or even weapons to Moscow through intermediaries. On the other hand, China disapproved of Russian nuclear threats in the Ukraine conflict and could play a key role in future peace negotiations. One thing is clear: Germany has conducted lucrative business with China for decades, and it is not foreseeable that this will change in the future, even if individual companies or sectors should strive for greater independence from Beijing in their supply chains. The narrative of an overpowering China driving us into dependence: Does it hold true at all? "We present ourselves as victims," emphasized Felix Lee. "We are not victims." His conclusion: There is no Western industrialized country that has benefited from China as much as Germany.