China policy of the AfD in 2024

China policy of the AfD 2024

Germany should decide independently on its relationship with China and existential dependence on China should be avoided. Germany reserves the right to actively represent and assert its interests independently of NATO and the EU in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

Internal AfD position paper on China policy, 2022

This is an English version of the original German language blog post on the China-policies of the AfD in 2024.

#113 Im Sinoskop: China-Politik der AfD 2024

European elections will be held within the 27 EU member states on 6 to 9 June. How relevant is the People’s Republic of China? What kind of relationship are German parties striving for and what are their China policies?

In order to find answers to these questions, Sinoskop analyses party positions on China (in alphabetical order) as well as respective party programmes for the upcoming European Parliament elections.

China policy of the AfD in 2024

Entering the search term “China” on the official website of the party “Alternative for Germany” only shows few results. The most recent China-related posts were published in 2022.

Chairman Mr Chrupalla warns:

‘If the economic war against Russia is now extended to China, we will cut ourselves off from further resources and technology. That is why we must maintain relations with China. We must keep all our options open.”[1]

AfD leader Ms Weidel criticises the German Foreign Minister’s “self-aggrandisement” with another warning:

To also openly oppose China now is highly dangerous.[2]

Search results on “China” are slightly more up-to-date on the party’s parliamentary group website. The most recent statements there date from July 2023. Two further examples.

The party’s foreign policy spokesperson criticises the German government’s China strategy as “worrying in several respects”:

First of all, the paper does not deserve its name: it is an attempt to impose green-woke ideology and US geopolitical interests under the guise of a strategy for German foreign policy.[3]

A lot more positive, on the other hand, is Ms Weidel’s assessment regarding the AfD’s first delegation trip to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in June 2023:

Our Chinese dialogue partners were very open and interested in us and were also very well informed about our work in Berlin. The next steps are already being planned. [4]

According to the press statement, the delegates found it

impressive how far digitisation and AI are already part of everyday life in Shanghai and Beijing.


De-risking and decoupling are not European or even German geopolitical strategies. Trade with China is too important for us to allow ourselves to be drawn into new disputes. [5]

Internal AfD position paper on China policy

At the end of 2022, the German media portal Correctiv published several internal papers from the AfD parliamentary group’s foreign policy working group. One of them relates to China and is titled In favour of a realistic, peaceful and independent German China policy. The six-page document outlines the AfD’s desired relationship with the PRC.

According to the position paper, German-Chinese relations are “proof that the international division of labour brings prosperity”. Both countries are described as winners of globalisation and Germany should therefore advocate for “peaceful and stable international cooperation” with China.

One of the AfD’s core demands is for Germany to adopt an “independent and self-confident China policy, independent of EU guidelines”. Some EU policies, however, seem acceptable for the otherwise radical anti-EU party:

In doing so, we will heed to the framework agreements signed between the EU and China in the areas of education, culture, economy, science and technology as well as politics. [6]

Moreover, the AfD’s stance regarding the EU-China Investment Agreement (CAI), which has not been negotiated further since mid-2021, is a rather unique one.

The ratification talks on the EU-China Investment Agreement (CAI), which are ongoing within the EU framework, must be driven forward in order to ensure better protection for German investors and fair market access. [7]

Regarding economic relations and trade, the party calls for “fairness”, “open and equal cooperation with China and a realistic assessment of China’s economic growth”. This insinuates that current policies and attitudes towards China, be it the German governments’ or the EU’s, are “unfair”, “unequal” and “unrealistic”:

Political leaders and their advisory environment are focusing more on confrontation and escalation between “authoritarian systems” such as China and Russia and “Western liberal democracies”, [8]

In contrast, the AfD presents itself as a cooperative political force. Furthermore, as the defender of the interests of the German Mittelstand another demand is that 

the “Law on Corporate Due Diligence in Supply Chains” should be cancelled without replacement and the supply chain law sought by the EU should be terminated. [9]

Overall, China’s “decades-long impressive economic growth” is highlighted. However, the position paper does mention some “risk factors” which should be “taken seriously”. Such as

Local government debt, the property bubble, and restrictive zero Covid policies that could seriously jeopardise economic stability, and a persistently low birth rate. [10]

In the following sections, titled: Increasing Germany’s digital sovereignty and competitiveness, it is stated that

China is making great strides in the regulation of digitisation and already has one of the most advanced internet infrastructures in the world. [11]

Therefore, in order to increase Germany’s own “digital competitiveness”, “national cooperation with China” should be promoted more strongly.

The section on “digital sovereignty” contains the sole policy measure not in favour of more national cooperation with China. The involvement of companies “controlled by foreign governments” in building Germany’s 5G network is seen as “unacceptable”, as it would “jeopardise” national security. Hence, the exclusion of the Chinese network equipment supplier Huawei is justified as a “necessary” step. 

AfD and China – in favour of a peaceful multipolar world order

As far as geopolitical issues are concerned, the AfD stands together with China “in favour of stable international security and a peaceful multipolar world order”. The latter would strengthen Germany’s autonomy.

On the issues of disarmament and arms control, the parliamentary group presents itself as a peace party. The paper states the party is “decisively in favour of strengthening and expanding control mechanisms of nuclear and conventional armaments”. A quote by the Chinese president underscores those proclaimed commons goals:

China has also listed this plan as one of its international security goals. To “achieve a nuclear-free world”, nuclear weapons should be completely banned and eventually destroyed, Chinese President Xi Jinping said in 2017.[12]

The situation in the Indo-Pacific and the tensions in the Taiwan Strait are also mentioned: 

A Chinese military invasion of Taiwan is becoming more and more likely due to the United States’ increasing activity in the region. Germany must condemn Chinese military invasion of Taiwan as a violation of international law, but must at the same time refrain from economic sanctions [against China] and arms deliveries [for Taiwan]. [13]

Germany’s Indo-Pacific strategy’s goal should be to “work with other Indo-Pacific countries to secure peace, stability and prosperity in the region”. Simultaneously, it must refrain from “any form of interference or involvement in disputes between local states over maritime borders”, as this would “directly harm Germany’s own political and security policy interests”.

The final section covers people-to-people exchanges. It states that Germany shall promote cultural and language exchange and value China expertise (Chinakompetenz). Germany’s “foreign cultural policy” should increasingly focus on “building bridges to other peoples and states”, and “cultural and civil society relations with China” deepened further. This includes promoting “an understanding of the culture of partner countries” and to “earnestly engage” in intercultural exchange. [14]

China and the AfD-affiliated media – the “voice of the resistance”

Looking at the AfD’s mouthpiece “Compact Magazin“, the world view and methods of the Right become more explicit, and more one-sided. The self-proclaimed “voice of resistance” published an article in August 2023 entitled: China doesn’t give a damn about “climate protection” regulations. [15]

In the article’s opening paragraph, it is claimed that the People’s Republic of China had “abandoned” the Paris Climate Agreement. This would be nothing short of a “massive disaster (super-GAU) for climate ideologues” supposedly proving that “all the talk” about China’s climate leadership was just “another lie” of many. Those statements are backed up with quotes from Diana Furchtgott-Roth. However, one has to find out for oneself who this Mrs Furchtgott-Roth actually is and where the quotes were taken from, a the article does not provide any information on this.

A quick search reveals that the quotes were taken from a commentary made by a member of the Heritage Foundation, an arch-conservative American think tank with radical neoliberal views. Supporting Donald Trump’s second term as president of the United States and aiding the fulfilment of his “vision” is a top priority for the Heritage Foundation:

With a nearly 1,000-page “Project 2025” handbook and an “army” of Americans, the idea is to have the civic infrastructure in place on Day One to commandeer, reshape and do away with what Republicans deride as the “deep state” bureaucracy. [16]

Let’s return to the claim that “the world’s biggest polluter has abandoned the Paris Agreement”, stating that Xi Jinping’s declaration to “set national emission reduction targets without taking external factors into account” was a “deliberate slap in the face to the US”.

Measures taken by the US and “other Western countries” in the fight against climate change were therefore nothing more than “pointless efforts”, “scaremongering” and “paralysing” for the economy. China, on the other hand, was “blithely going its own way” and “demonstrating to the world that the Paris Agreement and the entire global climate protection initiative is an exercise in futility”.

The article also does not provide any context on the statement made by Xi Jinping (a keynote speech held during the National Conference on Environmental Protection in July 2023). Mr. Xi’s remarks on China’s national emission reduction targets were clearly isolated in order to propagate a narrative.

Such statements related to the Paris Agreement and actual governmental positions need to be clarified. The following is a brief excerpt from the official Sunnylands Declaration on Enhancing Cooperation to Address the Climate Crisis from 14 November 2023:

The United States and China recognise that the climate crisis is increasingly affecting countries around the world. Alerted by the best available science, including the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report, the United States and China remain committed to the effective implementation of the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement […] to achieve the Paris Agreement’s goal under Article 2 to limit the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 degrees Celsius and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius […]. [17]

Exertion of influence by China – “Chinagate” and the AfD

In December last year, Der Spiegel, Le Monde and the Financial Times published joint investigations into long-standing links between an agent of the Chinese Ministry of State Security (MSS) and a European right-wing populist who was open to “paid missions”.

These media outlets, frequently labelled as “fake news” or “the lying press” by populists, analysed chat messages between an MSS agent (code name “Daniel Woo”) and Frank Creyelman, a Belgian member of the right-wing party “Vlaams Belang”. The data was collected and provided by a Western security agency, according to Der Spiegel. Mr Woo’s activities and his employer were verified “independently by several sources”, as well as “his contacts with the AfD in the Bundestag”. [18]

The chats date from 2019 to the end of 2022, with excerpts being published in several articles. They reveal details about a lively and intense exchange between the two parties, including personal meetings on the Chinese tropical island of Hainan. Topics of discussion included influencing public discourse in favour of the People’s Republic, recruiting new sources, discrediting voices critical of the Chinese government and measures to discredit the USA. Shortly after publication, Mr Creyelman was expelled from “Vlaams Belang” and the Belgian public prosecutor’s office launched an investigation against him on suspicion of espionage.

There are references to “our MPs”, both in the EU Parliament and the German Bundestag, having a “pro-China” stance. The AfD itself was a regular topic of discussion and, according to Der Spiegel, this would raise “an outrageous suspicion” regarding Germany:

It seems to be the case that China is able to direct German MPs to file enquiries in the German Bundestag. [19]

The suspicion relates to “at least” one small enquiry by the AfD parliamentary group in the Bundestag. The enquiry in question was on the subject of Hong Kong.

According to the “Chinagate”-media coverage, the Chinese secret agent himself claimed to have been the driving force behind the enquiry. Woo “literally boasted” about this in the chat messages, thus successfully managing to exert pressure on the German government. While Western security circles were also “certain” of this circumstance, the initiator of the enquiry, AfD MP Stefan Keuter, denies the allegations.

Eight questions from the AfD to the German Government on Hong Kong

Title of the small enquiry from May 2021: German refugee policy towards the Chinese Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong and granting of asylum status.

In terms of the framework the enquiry, it refers to a “so-called democracy movement” and Hong Kong “activists” who “explicitly advocate violence in political disputes in at least one case”. The AfD requested answers to a total of eight questions. One example:

1) How many refugees from the Chinese Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong have been granted asylum in Germany since the so-called Mong Kok protests in February 2016 (please list each by year)? [20]

The eight questions paint a negative image of millions of largely peaceful Hong Kong protesters. They read as if an incoming wave of asylum-seeking, violent and organised activist-refugees from Hong Kong was imminent. In addition, it is suggested they could inspire violent groups from other countries to enter Germany as well, while the German government remained passive, if not even actively supportive.

However, a look at the German Federal Office for Migration and Refugees “asylum business statistics” reveals a rather different reality.

In the whole of 2021, a total of 3 (in words: three) asylum applications were submitted from Hong Kong (with 228 from mainland China). [21] According to the most recent numbers from December 2023, a total of 4 asylum applications are listed under Hong Kong. None of them being new but “ongoing procedures from initial asylum applications”.

The AfD’s China policy – an interim analysis

Statements from the party leadership, the party’s own written documents and articles published in the AfD-affiliated media bear familiar hallmarks populists utilise to influence public discourse and win over voters:

  • Dislike and loud criticism of the USA or the US government, of the German federal government, and so-called “green-woke ideology”
  • Sympathy for and little or no criticism of the People’s Republic of China and Russia

The article China doesn’t give a damn about climate protection follows another familiar pattern, the dissemination of “alternative facts”. Taking an element of truth as a starting point – a sentence, a half-sentence or part of a statement – and put it out of context. Then, create a desired narrative around it and garnish it with ‘correct’ expert opinions to add more credibility. Finally, present it as real facts, as truth.

The enquiry on German refugee policy towards the Chinese Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong and the granting of asylum status is an example of ‘framing’. It raises questions about the AfD’s motivations for bringing such an enquiry into parliament in the first place. Such as, the party’s self-portrayal as a true representative of the interests of the people and its understanding of its role as an opposition party in parliament.

As suggested by the so-called “Chinagate”, possible influence exerted by China regarding the enquiry would be tantamount to treason. However, as is the case with other allegations against the AfD, there is a lack of solid evidence and they therefore remain in the realm of speculation and interpretation.

China-friendly positions of the AfD

More substantive and solid, on the other hand, is the position paper of the AfD foreign policy working group. In favour of a “realistic, peaceful and independent” German China policy, it is formulated in a rather China-friendly manner and mostly in line with the spirit of “win-win situations” propagated by the Chinese government.

Advocating “fair, open, equal” and above all “realistic” relations with China, the paper is full of key words and political standpoints that harmonise perfectly with the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) own official line.

The AfD’s rhetorical solidarity is somewhat surprising and can be interpreted as a welcome gift for the CCP. Examples include poisitions on disarmament, including a quote from Xi Jinping, international security and a “multipolar world order”, as well as the rather isolated call for the implementation of the CAI.

As per usual, the AfD is particularly critical of “the state”, those “politically responsible” and their “advisory environment”, i.e. the German government and the EU as a whole.

As far as China is concerned, the AfD only mentions “risk factors” that need to be monitored. Direct or indirect criticism of the USA, however, which is called out as the sole aggressor in the Taiwan Strait and the Indo-Pacific, is more frequent.

The only exception from the rule is the demand to exclude Huawei from the construction of Germany’s 5G network. This is in line with the party’s nationalist interests and demands for sovereignty. Perhaps it can also be interpreted as a strategically necessary step to avoid being accused of exclusively representing pro-Chinese positions within party factions.

Last but not least, “understanding of the culture of partner countries” is another example of the astonishing similarities in the language of the AfD and the CCP.

The pattern is a familiar one. When CCP policy is criticised, the Chinese side tends to retort with a supposed lack of understanding of China’s “uniqueness”, its culture and conditions. “Western” politicians are then strongly advised to first deepen their understanding of China. Only then will they be able to “properly understand” her and as a result, there will be fewer to no more misunderstandings.

Understanding China properly with Ambassador Wu

Remarks about former German chancellor Angela Merkel by the Chinese ambassador to Germany, Wu Ken, serve as an example:

“’The most important impression Chancellor Merkel left on me is that she is willing to get to know and understand China with an open mind,“ Wu said. “In the beginning, she lacked understanding of China. Unlike some other European politicians, she did not hold on to political prejudices,” he added.

“The deeper Merkel understands China, the more objective and comprehensive her views on China becomes, and her China policy has become more rational and pragmatic“, the ambassador said. [22]

The AfD’s positions on China and Germany’s role in the world can be found in the party’s programme for the 2024 European elections. The influence of this year’s leading AfD candidate for the European elections, Maximilian Krah, is evident. More on this in the second part on the AfD’s China policy.


[1] Tino Chrupalla: Wirtschaftskrieg nicht auf China ausweiten,
[2] Alice Weidel: Baerbocks Selbstüberhöhung gegenüber China ist brandgefährlich,
[4] Erste Delegationsreise der AfD-Fraktion in die Volksrepublik China,
[5] ibid.
[6] Die AfD und die „Anbiederung an menschenverachtende Regime“, S.2,
[7] ibid., 2.
[8] Die AfD und die „Anbiederung an menschenverachtende Regime“, S.3,
[9] ibid., 3.
[10] ibid., 4.
[11] ibid., 4.
[12] ibid., 5
[13] ibid., 5
[14] ibid., 6.
[15] China pfeift auf Vorschriften zum „Klimaschutz“,
[16] Conservative groups draw up plan to dismantle the US government and replace it with Trump’s vision,
[17] Sunnylands Statement on Enhancing Cooperation to Address the Climate Crisis,
[18] Chinas Stasi, ein belgischer Handlanger und Spuren zur AfD,
[19] Belgische Staatsanwaltschaft leitet wegen Enthüllungen des SPIEGEL Ermittlungen ein,
[20] Deutsche Flüchtlingspolitik gegenüber der chinesischen Sonderverwaltungszone Hongkong und Gewährung des Asylstatus,

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