German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, November 2022
Kay Nietfeld / Pool / Reuters

When Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany’s federal president and former foreign minister, received the Kissinger Prize in November 2022, he gave a candid assessment of his country’s (and his own) foreign policy failures. Since the world has changed, he said, “we must cast off old ways of thinking and old hopes,” including the idea that “economic exchange will bring about political convergence.” In the future, Steinmeier declared, Berlin must learn from the past and “reduce one-sided dependencies” not just on Russia but also on China.

As the war in Ukraine rages on, few German politicians would take issue with the assertion

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