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Germany's China Policy Reflects Multiple Value Systems of Spiral Dynamics

Germany recently unveiled a new strategy document* outlining its policy towards China. This highly anticipated strategy comes at a time of rising tensions between the West and China on issues ranging from human rights to technology competition. In formulating this policy, Germany aimed to strike a balance between competing economic and political interests while asserting its values. 

An analysis of Germany's China policy through the lens of Spiral Dynamics, a theory of human development, reveals that the strategy incorporates multiple value systems rather than adhering to a single worldview. Elements of safety and security (Purple), law and order (Blue), opportunity and success (Orange), equality and sustainability (Green), and complexity and functionality (Yellow) can all be seen in the policy's stated goals and approaches. 

This multifaceted perspective shows that Germany is adopting a nuanced, sophisticated strategy towards this complex relationship rather than a simplistic friend/foe dichotomy. The policy attempts to balance concerns about China's authoritarianism and human rights violations with the need for engagement on issues like climate change and global health. It also seeks to reduce economic dependence on China while avoiding outright decoupling.

What color are you Spiral Dynamics?

In a lifeSurvivalFamily relationsThe rule of forceThe power of truthCompetitionInterpersonal relationsFlexible streamThe Global vision
In a businessOwn farmFamily businessStarting up a personal businessBusiness Process ManagementProject managementSocial networksWin-Win-Win behaviorSynthesis

By integrating various value systems and interests, Germany's policy reflects the intricacy of interdependence between these major powers. How well this strategy navigates between cooperation and competition with China remains to be seen. But the deliberate incorporation of different developmental levels and priorities shows Germany is thinking deeply about crafting an adaptive yet principled policy for this era of growing great power rivalry.

Spiral Dynamics Color ModelQuotes from Germany's China PolicyPage Number
 Beige No clear connections to this level in the policy. It focuses more on higher levels of development-
 Purple "Germany's security is founded on our ability to act, the inner cohesion of the EU, the further strengthening of the transatlantic alliance, the profound friendship we share with France and our close partnership, based on mutual trust, with the United States."55
 Red "China combines great economic, technological, military and political power."
 "It [China] is deliberately bringing its economic power to bear to achieve its political goals."
 Blue "Protecting the rules-based international order on the basis of the Charter of the United Nations, universal human rights and international law, as well as protecting the UN system"
 "Compliance with international law: Compliance with international law standards and agreed commitments forms the basis for peace and makes international relations predictable."
11, 12
 Orange "We can place our trust in the strength of our liberal democratic order and the social market economy."
 "Our values and interests: We see women’s rights and the rights of marginalised groups as a yardstick for the state of a society."
11, 12
 Green "Protecting our natural resources is a priority of all our policies, including foreign policy. We see this as a key area of our cooperation with China, as environmental protection and the swift and sustainable decarbonisation of our societies are in our mutual interest and that of the entire world."12
 Yellow "China is simultaneously a partner, competitor and systemic rival for the Federal Government."
 "Systemic rivalry with China does not mean that we cannot cooperate. On the contrary, the Federal Government is seeking to cooperate with China on the basis of fair conditions."
8, 11
 Turquoise No clear connections to this level in the policy. It focuses more on higher levels of development-

So, in summary, the policy incorporates elements from Purple to Yellow in the Spiral Dynamics model, emphasizing Blue, Orange, and Green values. It seeks to balance multiple perspectives and interests in navigating the complex relationship with China.

Here are some conclusions and recommendations for incorporating the Turquoise value system into the next edition of Germany's China policy:


- Germany's current China policy integrates multiple perspectives, reflecting different levels of psychological and social development. This shows sophistication but still operates largely within the Yellow systemic worldview.

- While the policy seeks cooperation, its competitive tone indicates it does not fully transcend the Yellow strategic mentality. A Turquoise approach would move beyond national interests to global holism.

- The policy lacks a truly integrative framework bridging different human systems and recognizing our shared humanity. Turquoise thinking sees interconnection rather than just balancing interests.


- Adopt a holistic perspective that considers the welfare of both German and Chinese people, not just governments. Appeal to our common humanity.

- Frame the relationship within a larger view of global challenges requiring German-Chinese cooperation, not just competition. Align with global, not just national, interests.

- Propose creating integrative institutions enabling citizens, not just officials, to engage in dialogue and collaborative projects that benefit both sides.

- Express hope that by working together, Germans and Chinese can co-create an inclusive, just, and sustainable world order aligned with universal human values.

- Highlight our countries' shared responsibilities to address issues like climate change, pandemics, inequality, and protecting human dignity around the world.

- Invite China to join in shaping a new model of global cooperation that transcends zero-sum thinking and nationalism in service of our planetary community.


Valerii Kosenko
Product owner SaaS pet project SDTEST®

Valerii was qualified as a social pedagogue-psychologist in 1993 and has since applied his knowledge in project management.
Valerii obtained a Master's degree and the project and program manager qualification in 2013. During his Master's program, he became familiar with Project Roadmap (GPM Deutsche Gesellschaft für Projektmanagement e. V.) and Spiral Dynamics.
Valerii took various Spiral Dynamics tests and used his knowledge and experience to adapt the current version of SDTEST.
Valerii is the author of exploring the uncertainty of the V.U.C.A. concept using Spiral Dynamics and mathematical statistics in psychology, more than 20 international polls.
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