Though Germany is unlikely to break any business ties with China, its guidelines for the Indo-Pacific is a move with an eye on the future, to secure trade routes in the face of a brash, aggressive China.
- Germany has drafted a 40-page guidelines as it formally adopts a strategy for the Indo-Pacific region, reports The Diplomat.
- Germany, thus, becomes the second European nation to do so formally, France having led the way by doing so earlier
- The move by Germany augurs well for the Quad which is constituted by the United States, Japan, Australia, and India
It certainly looks like the entire world is not only waking up to the threat that China poses with its duplicity and callous behaviour but also gathering its wits and deciding to take the errant nation to the cleaners.
In the latest move, Germany’s Federal Foreign Office announced on Wednesday, a set of Indo-Pacific policy guidelines which run into 40 pages in the German language. This move makes it the second European nation after France to formally adopt a strategy for the Indo-Pacific region, reports The Diplomat.
According to an English press release accompanying the announcement, the strategy is designed to allow Germany to make “an active contribution to shaping the international order in the Indo-Pacific.” As Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was quoted as saying in the press statement, the Indo-Pacific, “is where the shape of the international rules-based order of tomorrow will be decided. We want to help shape that order—so that it is based on rules and international cooperation, not on the law of the strong.”
Berlin’s Indo-Pacific guidelines foreground maritime security cooperation, human rights, and the diversification of Germany’s economic partnerships in the Indo-Pacific in order for it and regional partners to “to avoid unilateral dependencies.”
On the face, this move by Germany may look like a simple economic and geopolitical concession of what may be the emergent situation in this part of the world, especially Asia. It can also be construed as a reflection of the growing mood of distemper toward China throughout Europe. The Dragon’s recent crackdown in Hong Kong, its fearsome and aggressive treatment of the Uyghurs in the Xinjiang region of western China, the numerous expansionist salami-slicing moves, and of course the irresponsible behaviour where the initial alert system in the COVID-19 pandemic is concerned – has pained the western world too. Also, the restrengthening of ‘the Quad’ has definitely sent some serious signals across the world.
The Quad and its future:
Australia, India, Japan, and the United States – four strong and consistent democracies of the world – had created the Quad about 12 years ago. This international grouping, left for dead a decade earlier, was brought back to life amid mounting concerns over China’s increasingly aggressive behaviour, writes strategic expert Jeff M Smith in the blog warontherocks.com.
Smith writes: “At its core, the Quad is a symbolic and substantive addition to an existing network of strategic and defence cooperation among four highly capable Indo-Pacific democracies that are increasingly aligned in their shared concerns on regional security.”
Smith writes how in early 2008, China under President Hu Jintao was still adopting a more moderate “hide and bide” strategy, and the Quad member nations, therefore, lacked consensus on the nature and severity of the challenges Beijing posed. Also, India seemed then the weakest link and a rather reluctant partner. But with China’s walking rough-shod on The Belt and Road Initiative, Doklam
the issue, interference in Canberra’s politics, rubbing Japan the wrong way on the East China Sea, attempting to undermine Hong Kong’s citizens’ rights and attempt to overpower Taiwan – has not only made India a committed partner in Quad but also stirred the other three out of the reverie.
The Quad’s return is a response to China’s authoritarian turn under Xi Jinping. With China turning brasher and brasher and irresponsible, French President Emanuel Macron declared during a European Council meeting in March last year, “the time of European naiveté [towards China] is over.”
The Quad is likely to hold its next meeting in the Fall – probably in India.
How big a role will Germany take on?
Germany’s engagement with the Indo-Pacific is likely to differ considerably from the strong posture that the United States under President Donald Trump assumes. The US makes no bones about the fact that it puts the Indo-Pacific at the centre of its national security strategy.
The German guidelines do not signal any significant economic decoupling. As per some reports, China is a huge market for German cars such as the Volkswagen, the BMW and the Mercedes-Benz. Berlin is unlikely to damage this vital trade relationship. But Germany’s bold move at the moment will likely soon influence other European nations to follow Germany and France in forging new paths into the Indo-Pacific, concludes The Diplomat.