Ola Källenius declared that cutting ties with China is impossible and “not desirable”.
“The main players in the global economy – Europe, the US and China – are so closely linked that it makes no sense to separate ourselves from China,” Källenius told the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag. “It’s about gains for both sides in terms of economic growth and climate protection, not about conflicts.”
There is heated debate in German political and business circles about the best approach to the country’s deep economic ties with China, which was Germany’s most important trading partner for the seventh consecutive year in 2022, notes the Financial Times.
Concerns about China’s threat to Germany’s critical infrastructure have prompted a reassessment of the role of Chinese telecommunications company Huawei in the country’s communications networks. The government is also being forced to review a controversial decision to sell a stake in a port terminal in Hamburg to Chinese shipping conglomerate Cosco.
Meanwhile, many of Germany’s biggest companies are unwavering in their commitment to the world’s largest and most important destination for consumer goods.
Last year, China was the most important global market for Mercedes cars, with a 37% market share, compared to 31% in Germany and other European markets and 15% for the US.
Källenius insisted his firm is “not naïve” about the business threats posed by rising tensions between Washington and Beijing and the risk of an invasion of Taiwan.
“Of course, we see the political differences and tensions,” he said. “The coronavirus pandemic has shown how fragile supply chains are. We need to become more resilient here and more independent of individual states in the case of lithium batteries, for example.”
He added, however, that “decoupling from China is an illusion and also not desirable.”
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