More influence for Beijing

Human rights organization criticizes new lobby association (Press Release)

The Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) criticizes the establishment of the so-called "China Bridge". The board of the new lobby association includes politicians and business representatives from Germany and China. "Germany needs more independent expertise on China, its strategies and interests," stated Ulrich Delius, the STP's Director, in Göttingen today. "Really, nobody needs another opaque lobby club that promotes an uncritical relationship with the People's Republic."

As the board includes Alibaba, Huawei, and the China Representative of the city of Duisburg, no one would seriously expect the board to be independent, Delius emphasized. "Duisburg is the end point of the rail link of the so-called New Silk Road. Therefore, the city has massive economic interests in expanding relations with China – without annoying criticism concerning the human rights situation or the geopolitical behavior of the People's Republic." For months, the technology group Huawei, which is very close to the Chinese state, has been going to a lot of trouble to influence German politicians to act in its interests in the dispute regarding the 5G network. At the same time, the e-commerce giant Alibaba and the associated Alibaba Foundation are trying to position themselves as goodwill ambassadors all over the world, particularly in Africa. For example, in order to improve China's image, the Alibaba Foundation distributed hundreds of thousands of respirators in African countries. "Politically, both companies support China's politics one hundred percent – including the disrespect for human rights and including the crimes in Xinjiang," Delius criticized.

According to the human rights advocate, it is particularly problematic that the association operates in politically highly sensitive areas while trying to keep its list of members secret. "From the viewpoint of German politics, this lack of transparency should disqualify China Bridge for cooperation," Delius added. "Similar to the controversial Confucius Institutes, this new instrument of Chinese soft power policy aims to strengthen Beijing's influence in Germany and weaken European values ??and interests."