Beijing is stepping back from Europe and zeroing in on Berlin as it feels a “special relationship” between the two countries can help its leadership aspirations in the global and regional level. The countries’ “bond”¬†emerged as trade boomed over the past decade.

Germany makes up nearly half of EU exports to China, while German demand for Chinese imports is nearly a quarter. Chinese demand for automobiles and machinery also pulled Germany up from the economic crisis. Both economies are benefitting from what the Financial Times calls supply-and-demand symbiosis.

Politically, the countries are found to be on the same side. But the emerging “special relationship” can go in two directions for Europe. Europe can access Chinese markets through Germany or Germany can look at it bilaterally to pursue its own economic interests rather than Europe’s. China sees the relationship as an opportunity to hinder the US pivot to Asia, seeing Germany as a possible ally.

In the meantime, Europe will continue to play a part, if not a great one, in the emerging “bond” between Beijing and Berlin.