Five weeks have passed since the EU sanctioned China because of human rights issues in Xinjiang. The Chinese reaction was harsh and asymmetric. But the only official statement from the German government was: “We have taken note of China’s reaction”. Apart from that, nothing – not in the press release following German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the beginning of April, nor in the press release following the trilateral video call between Macron, Merkel and Xi. There has been no mention in Merkel’s speeches before the German Bundestag or any other occasion.
Now, at the end of April, it is time for inter-governmental consultations – a privileged format Germany only uses for very few nations. So far, the only mention of human rights since the sanctions has been from Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, and all he said was that the European Union has made its position clear on this matter and the topic will be – as always – discussed at the inter-governmental consultations. It appears to be business as usual.