German Chancellor Angela Merkel in an interview Wednesday, Nov. 17, said although intellectual property could be an issue, it is not time for Europe and Germany to stop cooperating with China yet.
“Total decoupling wouldn’t be right in my view, it would be damaging for us,” she told Reuters, while also addressing the risks of unjust competition, technology theft, and espionage attempts from the Asian regime.
Merkel said despite the stakes, Chinese scientists are still valuable in the sense that they could still learn from each other. She added that, as against China and the U.S., Europe was not as competitive in areas like quantum computers and artificial intelligence.
Though she admitted Germany needed to reassess some of its collaboration with the Communist government for not being cautious enough with it in the past.
“Maybe initially we were rather too naive in our approach to some cooperation partnerships,” Merkel said. “These days we look more closely, and rightly so.”
The Chancellor noted that IT security legislation is crucial to protect Germany’s important facilities as it continues to collaborate with Chinese suppliers such as Huawei.
In spite of her declarations about IT security, she also downplayed a stiffer tone to regulations on private companies which might endanger security.
“However, I feel it is always important to stress that individual companies should not be excluded from the outset,” she said.
Huawei is condemned by the U.S. for its wireless networking equipment that could allow surveillance for the Chinese government to exploit. By August last year, the Trump administration banned it from U.S. communications networks. The Biden administration has not revealed whether it’d remove the regulation, according to CNET.
Although Merkel did not hold back on sensitive topics such as human rights abuses in her visits to Beijing, Reuters noted, critics say the European country has had its tone somewhat not rigorous enough because it had become dependent on China.
Merkel is set to depart her leadership role soon when the new government for Germany is set out. She had withdrawn from re-election last September.