01:21 GMT +319 July 2019
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    Bus ushers walk past red flags on Tiananmen Square during a plenary session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Monday, March 11, 2019

    Leader of Merkel's CDU Calls Rise of China 'Systemic Challenge' for Europe, US

    © AP Photo / Ng Han Guan
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    Under Donald Trump, the United states has shifted dramatically toward strategic competition with China, challenging the Asian superpower on both trade and security.

    Germany's leader-in-waiting Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has said that the rise of Beijing is posing a "systemic challenge" for Europe and for the United States.

    Speaking on Wednesday at a conference hosted by a German think-tank that advocates closer US-EU ties, Angela Merkel's successor as CDU leader stated that Germany should "find common ground" with the United States on how to deal with China.

    However, she refused to describe China as an enemy, instead referring to it as an "economic competitor".

    The European Union, and Germany in particular, has traditionally been close to China. Last year, China became the second-largest exporter of goods into the EU as well as the biggest importer.

    Germany has been at odds with the United States over military spending and the Nord Stream 2 project, and has also come under pressure from the US in the wake of the Trump administration's efforts to choke off Chinese tech firms and tackle Beijing on trade.

    In May, Trump raised tariffs on a whopping $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, and effectively banned American companies doing business with Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei.

    US envoy Richard Grenell has warned Germany, citing security reasons, that its reluctance to ban Huawei from 5G build-up would throttle US intelligence-sharing with Berlin. Germany has pushed back, however, saying that it would define its own security standards for 5G, and allowed Huawei to take part in a 5G auction.

    Trump also threatened last week to hit Beijing with tariffs on at least $300 billion in Chinese goods, which would cover almost all Chinese exports to the United States.

    He has also pledged to increase tariffs on automobiles and automobile parts imported from the European Union, claiming that their imports pose a risk to the US national security. On 17 May, he decided to delay the move, and the sides now have until November to negotiate new trade agreements.

    If he follows through with his threat, it could affect some $53 billion worth of car and auto part exports. In the long run, economists estimate, it would lead to German car exports to the US falling by almost 50 per cent.

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