The exploding prices for natural gas and oil stemming from the Russian invasion of Ukraine has made abundantly clear what the consequences are of looking the other way: a deep dependency that can only be fixed at a high economic price. And Germany’s dependence on China is even greater than it was on Russia.
Time is running short. China still needs the markets in Europe and the United States. If the Chinese economy continues to grow faster than all other industrialized countries, Beijing will be so strong that Europe won’t have much leverage.
The war in Ukraine has shown that Europe and the U.S. stand together when their fundamental values are under threat. The sanctions against the Putin regime are an important signal for Beijing as well that, while globalization remains an important engine of growth, it can only work within the parameters of international law and human rights. If Europe wants to retain influence, it also cannot leave all future technologies to the Chinese. The European Union needs an industrial policy that consistently and robustly supports the development of key strategic industries. Doing so won’t make the Continent independent, but it will make it more resilient.