With Russia there has been the “Modernisierungspartnerschaft,” which means “partnership for modernization.” But both have more or less failed. Relations with Russia, which Germany relies on heavily for energy, have recently touched another low after the poisoning of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who flew to Berlin for treatment against the will of the Kremlin. “It is impossible given these developments to go back to the old policy approach which basically entailed a lot of understanding for Russia,” Daniela Schwarzer, director of the German Council on Foreign Relations, told CNBC in a phone interview.
With China, it’s becoming increasingly clear that there will be no “political change” through trade. But many say it’s high time for Germany to be stricter with Beijing, be it on acquisitions, technology or human rights issues.