BERLIN/BEIJING (Own report) – On the occasion of the German chancellor’s visit to China, Berlin’s China experts are predicting tangible “turbulences” in German-Chinese relations. Chancellor Merkel is, above all, using her visit to the People’s Republic to seek new business opportunities for German industry. However, growing tensions between the USA and China could soon be expected, according to a recent statement by the director of Berlin’s Mercator Institute for China Studies. Germany and the EU will have to more clearly choose sides than has previously been the case. Government advisors are also proposing that relationships in the field of security policy with member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) be enhanced. This would strengthen the German-EU position in China’s direct vicinity and could possibly be combined with cautious naval expeditions. Comprehensive arms deliveries are flanking these plans for a closer military cooperation. Three East and Southeast Asian countries are among the top-ten customers of German military hardware. They are among those countries, Washington is seeking to pit against China.
German experts on China are anticipating rising tensions between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, and are predicting that Germany will “have to choose sides” in this dispute. At the time the German chancellor is seeking new business deals for German industry in Chengdu and Beijing, the Director of Berlin’s Mercator Institute for China Studies, Sebastian Heilmann, published an analysis, in which he expressed his skepticism. Relations between Berlin and Beijing will soon be “much more conflict-prone” than “in the past ‘golden decade’ of German-Chinese cooperation,” while “Chinese-US rivalry for the leading role in East and Southeast Asia” will clearly be exacerbated, predicts Heilman in an article published by a leading German daily. As can clearly be seen in his article, the author expects Berlin to take the side of the USA. “We should adjust to turbulences in our relations with China.”
The efforts to initiate a sort of long-term cooperation in military policy, in spite of Southeast Asian sensitivities, are being flanked by large-scale arms exports to ASEAN nations. This was confirmed in the German government’s most recent Arms Export Report, published in May. Among the Top-10 customers of German war material in 2013, the report lists three countries of East and Southeast Asia. The German government has authorized the shipment of tanks, fire control systems, communications equipment and similar material to Indonesia, valued at 300 million Euros. Singapore was authorized shipments of more than 200 million Euros in tanks and naval equipment, South Korea bought more than 200 million Euros worth of equipment – including tank spare parts and aerial defense systems. For years, Southeast Asian countries have been among Germany’s most important customers of military equipment. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) Berlin is furnishing arms to those countries, Washington is seeking to pit against China, and with which the EU (albeit more slowly and carefully) is seeking to establish relations in military policy. The contacts – which are not a problem, as long as Berlin can maintain its close economic cooperation with China – should become advantageous, if the confrontation becomes more exacerbated between Washington and Beijing and Berlin and the EU can exercise influence in the region via its contacts to ASEAN.
In fact while the chancellor was preparing new business deals and sharing amities with her hosts in Beijing, Berlin had long since had its eye on serious confrontation scenarios. For years, experts have been speaking of a western “ring of fire around China.” They do not rule out the possibility that the conflicts over the islands in Eastern and Southeastern Asia could escalate. A speech given in 2012 by the exile Chinese writer, Liao Yiwu exemplarily gives an indication of the potential for escalation. That year, Liao, who is politically and financially supported by the German Foreign Ministry, was awarded the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade. In his acceptance speech, he explained that China is a “gigantic heap of garbage” and a “dictatorial … empire,” with “many regions and peoples forcibly chained to one another;” it should be “smashed.” For his slander of China and his appeal for China to be smashed, Liao received a very hardy round of applause from his audience, which included German President Joachim Gauck.
Full article: Using Double Talk (II) (German Foreign Policy)