Europe’s biggest economy has yet to take a final position on Chinese tech giant Huawei despite US pressure to exclude its equipment from next-generation telecom networks as a possible security risk.
“China is an important partner for us but also a competitor,” Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement after a videoconference Friday with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi.
Peter Beyer, the government’s coordinator for trans-Atlantic cooperation, expressed alarm in an interview with the RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland newspaper group.
“We are experiencing the beginning of a Cold War 2.0,” Beyer said. He criticized both sides but said, “the US is our most important partner outside the EU, and that is how it will stay.”
President Emmanuel Macron calls President Donald Trump “my friend” but is trying to avoid riling Beijing.
France has not echoed Trump’s criticism of Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus, but legislators applauded Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian last week when he condemned abuses of minority Uighurs in China’s northwest.
Le Drian mentioned “mass arrests, disappearances, forced labor, forced sterilizations, the destruction of Uighur cultural heritage.” He said France has asked that the camps be closed.
“All these practices are unacceptable,” the minister said. “We condemn them.”
Trump's ambivalence toward US allies and flouting of diplomatic norms has alarmed France.