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Germany to join Australia to curb Chinese influence in Indo-Pacific

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Germany's Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer with Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2018 (Photo- The Sydney Morning Herald)
Germany's Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer with Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2018 (Photo- The Sydney Morning Herald)

By Choekyi Lhamo

DHARAMSHALA, Nov. 7: Germany is expected to patrol the Indian Ocean with the Australian Navy in what is seen as a plan to manage Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific region. The German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said that the Indo-Pacific had become crucial to the world’s well-being, “We believe that Germany needs to mark its position in the region.”

Kramp-Karrenbauer said that Europe is becoming increasingly aware of China’s economic agenda and geopolitical tactics in the past year. She further remarked that although China is an important trading partner but it is important for Germany to “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.”

The former Secretary General of the Christian Democratic Union confirmed publicly the restrictions on Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei that effectively excludes the company from country’s 5G network. “Germany is, in principle, open to investment from all sides. But if the technology offered to us is not beyond reproach, it cannot be used,” she said.

She said that the presence of the Indo-Pacific would help safeguard the rules-based international order as the region stretches from the Indian Ocean to the Coral Sea and includes India, China, Japan and Australia. The minister further added, “We will be spending more on defence in 2021 than in 2020 despite the fact that [Coronavirus] has hit our budgets. Now the key is to translate this into real muscle.”

After the national security laws were imposed in Hong Kong, Kramp-Karrenbauer said that Europe is also concerned about the future of Taiwan and the increased military presence in the Taiwan Strait. The Defence Minister further warned, “Anything outside a peaceful settlement of issues across the Taiwan Strait would be seen as a major failure of statecraft . . . A purely military logic in this confrontation would produce only losers.”

Germany is currently working with NATO to expand relations with like-minded states such as Australia in the Indo-Pacific, “I am convinced territorial disputes, violations of international law and China’s ambitions for global supremacy can only be approached multilaterally.” Germany’s largest trading partner is China; it opted for a more cautious foreign policy and defence outlook towards the Asian nation since the second world war.

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