Client-State Germany to Protect “Rules-Based World Order” From China in the Pacific Ocean
Will 'stand up' to the dastardly phone-makers with a frigate. One frigate.
Following the US, other Western countries are looking to increase their presence in the Pacific to counter Beijing. On Thursday, Germany’s Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said Berlin is looking to join Australia in the region for naval drills.
The defense minister said Germany will send a Navy ship to the region next year to join Australia for joint exercises. Echoing the rhetoric coming out of Washington, Kramp-Karrenbauer said China is undermining a “rules-based world order” and said Germany wants to increase its footprint in the Indo-Pacific by teaming up with “like-minded” allies.
“China has its own ideas about individual freedoms, human rights, our Western idea of democracy,” she said. Kramp-Karrenbauer also called China’s global infrastructure project, the Belt and Road Initiative, a “challenge we have to react to.”
The US has been partnering with allies in the Pacific for joint naval exercises, including Australia, who joined the US, Japan, and India for the annual Malabar drills off India’s coast this year. In previous years, India was hesitant to allow Australia to join the drills, fearful of the message it would send to Beijing. But with India-China tensions high over a border dispute in the western Himalayans, New Delhi decided to allow Canberra to join in the show of force.
Some US officials hope the informal alliance of the US, Japan, India, and Australia, known as the Quad, could be the basis for a NATO-style alliance in Asia. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has hinted at expanding the alliance into Asia to counter Beijing.
German officers are expected to be deployed with the Australian Navy and a German frigate will patrol the Indian Ocean under Berlin’s plan to manage China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific region.
Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the German Defence Minister, said the Indo-Pacific had become crucial to the world’s well-being.
“We believe that Germany needs to mark its position in the region,” she said in an exclusive interview.
Kramp-Karrenbauer, popularly known by her initials AKK, said that Europe had become increasingly aware of China’s economic agenda and geopolitical tactics in the past year.
“China is an important trading partner for Germany and we have strong economic ties which are in the interest of both sides,” she said.
“At the same time, we do not turn a blind eye on unequal investment conditions, aggressive appropriation of intellectual property, state-subsidised distortion of competition or attempts to exert influence by means of loans and investments.”
In 2018 the 58-year-old became the secretary general of the Christian Democratic Union, Germany’s largest political party. Subsequently she was touted as a successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel. However, in February she announced she would not run for chancellor in the expected 2021 election and would relinquish the party leadership.
Kramp-Karrenbauer is the first German minister to confirm publicly that restrictions on Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei would effectively exclude the company from Germany’s 5G network.
Kramp-Karrenbauer would not comment specifically on whether the frigate would conduct freedom of navigation exercises in the South China Sea, where China has made territorial claims that are disputed by countries across Asia, the European Union, Australia and the US.
“Given the rising security challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, it is my goal to intensify our bilateral and multilateral collaboration. That could include, for example, the embarkation of German officers on Australian Navy units – a project that is being negotiated as we speak,” she said.
Germany is working within NATO to expand relations with like-minded states such as Australia in the Indo-Pacific, Kramp-Karrenbauer confirmed. The alliance has historically involved 30 North American and European countries.
“We share the same values, principles and interests. As a consequence, we stand united against those who challenge us,” she said.
“I am convinced territorial disputes, violations of international law and China’s ambitions for global supremacy can only be approached multilaterally.”
The comments by Kramp-Karrenbauerare are the most direct by a German or European minister on China to date. China is Germany’s largest trading partner and Germany has historically opted for a more cautious foreign policy and defence outlook since World War II.
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald