A treat or a boost for the German economy? Together with Sandra Maischberger on China, Markus Söder declares himself the “world champion of bows”, rails against gender equality, the partial legalization of cannabis and expresses himself eloquently on the question of the chancellor.

“I think the panda is squishing me!” – given the “nice pictures” and videos of stuffed animals on TikTok, you could almost guess that Markus Söder was in China as a tourist at the end of March. Instead, the Bavarian prime minister held “important discussions,” including with Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao, “to promote the Bavarian economy,” as he explained to Sandra Maischberger in an unusual spot on Monday.

“I agreed with Olaf Scholz in advance,” he emphasized, that both seek “the same language and the same goal”: “We want to minimize the risks and improve the economic situation.”

Markus Söder refers to Henry Kissinger

According to critics, this did not involve merely “hugging” pandas: Maischberger wanted to know whether trade relations were made dependent on respect for human rights and pointed out that Angela Merkel always discussed human rights and civil society developments in China during her visits. would have turned.

“I am neither a missionary nor a representative of NGOs. “I have to see that I also represent the interests of Germany and in this case Bavaria,” Söder sidestepped. He adheres to the philosophy of former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger: it's important to deal with things, but also to find ways to stay in the conversation – “even when it's difficult for partners.” If we only talked to those “who are exactly the same as us, then we wouldn't have much to do,” he defended his “real politics instead of moral politics.”

“Mrs. Baerbock's impression is that moral matters are at the fore”

Maischberger wanted to know if it was a slip by Annalena Baerbock (Alliance 90/The Greens). The foreign minister described the Chinese president as a dictator. “Mrs. Baerbock has the impression that moral matters are in the foreground,” the CSU boss confirmed. As a former leader of the Green Party, he could do it: “I don't know if it's in Germany's interest.”

He acknowledged that Germany's commitment to human and women's rights is “absolutely essential”. In his opinion, “feminist foreign policy” and “the fact that we Germans appear very docile and moralizing” is not an “optimal appearance”, especially “historically”.

After Maischberger's dictator question, Söder ponders the minutes

“That was not the topic at the moment,” Maischberger did not let himself be distracted. “I wanted to know if you consider the president of China to be close to a dictator?” When the moderator expected a clear answer, he was disappointed. This was followed by a minute of nudging: China is not a democracy, Söder said, he spoke of a “centralized, authoritarian system that is not comparable to ours” and a “communist system”.

He simply did not want to be associated with the term “dictatorship”. When Maischberger started again, it became too colorful for the prime minister: “I always ask myself why we in Germany are world champions in confusion, but no longer world champions in production and job creation,” he counterattacked: “I think it's a shame. .”

Maischberger: “You are not Chancellor, at least not yet”

“Too bad,” was his comment a few minutes later. Undeterred, Maischberger spoke again about whether the concept of “change through trade” would work for countries like China. “I am very curious to see what the chancellor will say when he meets Xi Jinping,” said Söder, apparently referring to the fact that Olaf Scholz will also fly to China with a business delegation on Saturday.

Maischberger apparently understood it differently: “You are not the chancellor, at least not yet,” he said. “Yeah, that's a shame,” Söder replied to laughter from the studio audience. His own laugh was fleeting, “Too bad,” he repeated, visibly more thoughtful.

Söder had a clear opinion on another of Maischberger's questions: “What will you do if China attacks Taiwan?” he wanted to know. “Then the situation will change completely,” he replied. This would be very difficult for Bavarian companies operating in China. “You have to orient yourself in a different way,” he said, if such a situation were to arise.

He refused to sever trade relations as a precautionary measure: “The government hardly has any idea how to strengthen the economy,” he used the opportunity to rant against the traffic lights, “now we should also cancel everything abroad. What will it look like in the end?”

“In private, everyone can suffocate”: Söder makes fun of the swamp

Instead, “we have to make sure that we achieve something in the world, and if we want to remain an exporting country, we also have to sell German products,” he emphasized, and then attacked domestic politics: for that, “the government. needs to get the economy going. “But don't put the country into a coma,” it didn't it's a secret that he thinks about the new partial legalization of cannabis as little as he does about the bowels.

The latter has had no place in Bavarian “offices and schools” lately. In private, however, anyone can “talk to the stars” and “choke,” he said, mocking the “absolutely absurd regulation.”

However, he considered moderator Maischberger's objection that alcohol should be banned like cannabis to be even more absurd. “There are 40,000 deaths due to alcohol consumption, the costs are expected to be 57 billion euros,” he refuted the argument that cannabis should not be legalized for health reasons, “and nowhere do you drink as much beer as in Bavaria.” This would be an average of 125 liters, which is 34 liters more than in the rest of the Federal Republic, he cited statistics.

“75 joints – what do you look like?”

“Not as much as before,” Söder argued. As Maischberger noted, he didn't want to let go of the fact that his regret was there. He hardly drinks alcohol himself, but he manages to keep things moderate – “perhaps contrary to others”, as he smugly added.

Banning alcohol would be “socially difficult”. In his opinion, allowing cannabis would be the wrong approach, especially in this dimension: “There are 15 joints in Holland, 75 joints in Germany – how do you look there?” he couldn't believe it. “Then you'd better drink ten pints of beer,” replied Maischberger. And so had the last word on the matter.

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