The auto industry is caught in a China dilemma

The jobs at the VW plant in Wolfsburg also depend on the success of the group in the Far East.
Image: dpa

The federal government is demanding that companies decouple from China. Even if the motives for doing so may be respectable: the consequences of this step would be difficult to cope with in the current difficult economic situation.

Dhe political demand is understandable. Since the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, which led to a new rapprochement between Beijing and Moscow, the debate about the heavy dependence of German companies on the Chinese market has intensified.

Now Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck wants to put the brakes on business with China and is publicly calling for tougher dealings with the authoritarian regime in the People’s Republic. In the German auto industry, he falls on deaf ears. That too is understandable.

Because Volkswagen, BMW, Mercedes & Co. live from the largest car market in the world. The jobs in Wolfsburg, Munich or Stuttgart are secured in the Far East. If politicians really want to put pressure on German companies’ activities in China in view of the new geo- and trade-political tensions, they must back up their words with action.

If business with the People’s Republic became less attractive for the German economy, it would do without it. But unlike in the case of Russia, the consequences would be difficult to cope with in the current delicate economic situation. That must be clear to every politician, no matter how honorable his motives may be.