En Route to New Conflicts (II)

BERLIN (Own report) – In the midst of a phase of the expansion of the EU’s military policy relations with several East and Southeast Asian countries, German Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit Japan. Merkel will arrive March 8 in the Japanese capital, reciprocating Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to Germany last year. Tokyo seeks to intensify its cooperation with EU countries – also militarily – to enhance its position in territorial conflicts with Beijing. At the same time, the United States is focusing, to a growing extent, its global policy efforts on eastern Asia and the Pacific Basin. Shortly before Merkel is to visit Japan, a study published by the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) points out that the interests of several EU countries would be “massively affected should conflicts escalate in this region.” These conflicts are mostly about territorial sovereignty over islands and groups of islands, which recently have become accentuated. SWP proposed that the EU “discuss” what position to take “in case of conflict.”

A Question of Positioning

Shortly before Chancellor Angela Merkel visits Japan, Berlin’s Chancellery-financed German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP) has published a comprehensive survey of the military and security policy situation in East and Southeast Asia. This survey focuses on the tensions between the People’s Republic of China and several East and Southeast Asian countries, over various islands and groups of islands in the South and East China Seas. The West instrumentalizes these conflicts to pit China’s adversaries more strongly against Beijing. On the western side, the United States is playing a leadership role. The SWP now points out that “the EU and individual European countries would be massively affected both in their economic interests and their (global) regulatory policy concepts, should the conflicts escalate in this region.” The author of this SWP study recommends, “the EU and European nations discuss what position they will take in case of a conflict.”[1]

Plans of Action

Since some time, Berlin and the EU have sought to significantly expand their activities of influence – also on a military level – in East and Southeast Asia. The EU concluded a framework agreement with South Korea in May 2014, which, according to SWP, “makes Seoul the region’s first EU security partner.” The agreement stipulates that if necessary, South Korea can participate in future EU interventions, and through this agreement, Berlin and Brussels will have a stronger presence in East Asia. Back in 2012, the EU concluded a “plan of action” with the international alliance ASEAN,[4] which also foresees closer cooperation in the field of “security.” Then at the EU-ASEAN Foreign Minister’s Meeting, in July 2014, a declaration was accepted, containing stipulations on “security” policy. According to SWP, it foresees “a reinforced cooperation in the area of maritime security” as well as “the enhancement of relations between the two sides in questions of a strategic partnership.”

Germany’s Priorities

The SWP now proposes that the EU discuss “how to react to a military escalation of East Asian conflicts.” Admittedly, “such a crisis is improbable.” However, latent conflicts can escalate rapidly, as can be seen in the Sino-Japanese islands conflict, when tensions dramatically escalated in a flash in 2013. The development of the escalation of the power struggle with Russia is a particularly conspicuous confirmation of this fact. It has demonstrated that the political-economic significance of the transatlantic interests outweigh, in cases of doubt, the interests of cooperation with new economic partners. In 2011, a “Policy Game” of the Körber Foundation prophesied what would happen in a case of a US-Chinese conflict. The results of the “Policy Game,” (german-foreign-policy.com reported [6]) showed that a simulated conflict between the People’s Republic of China and the USA would lead Germany to “ultimately give its unconditional solidarity to the USA and an unambiguous declaration of allegiance to the transatlantic pact.”

Full article: En Route to New Conflicts (II) (German Foreign Policy)

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