In an interview published Friday, Westerwelle said China would be a “key partner” in the 21st century.
“China and Europe need one another more than ever,” he told daily Hamburger Abendblatt. “An intensive co-operation is to the advantage of both sides.”
Westerwelle said there was both a political and an economic necessity for the European Union and China to work together.
“Because of its size, its economic strength and its political importance, China is a key partner in the 21st century,” he said.
The Free Democrats leader also praised the global political role China was playing.
“It is welcome that China is taking increasing responsibility in global politics and business,” he said. “Genuine partnership means open talks about different points of view.”
China is fast-becoming one of Germany’s most important trading partners. The emerging giant is sucking up massive volumes of German exports such as machine tools, which it needs to equip its own growing manufacturing sector.
Germany and China joined forces at the recent G20 meeting in Seoul to criticize the United States’ monetary policy, whereby it pumped $600 billion of cash into the markets in an effort to kickstart its economy.
At the time, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble blasted the policy, known as “quantitative easing,” as “horrendous” and warned that the US had for too long lived on borrowed money.