With an eye on China, Germany has decided to patrol the Indian Ocean by deploying a warship in the Indo-Pacific under Berlin’s plan to manage China’s influence in the region.
“We believe that Germany needs to mark its position in the region,” Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the German Defence Minister, said in an interview with The Sunday Morning Herald. She added that Europe is now increasingly taking note of China’s “economic agenda” and “geopolitical tactics”.
“We hope to be able to deploy next year,” she said. “We will be spending more on defense in 2021 than in 2020 despite the fact that [coronavirus] has hit our budgets. Now the key is to translate this into real muscle.”
She further acknowledged China as “an important trading partner” for Germany with “strong economic ties” benefitting both sides.
“At the same time, we do not turn a blind eye on unequal investment conditions, aggressive appropriation of intellectual property, state-subsidized distortion of competition or attempts to exert influence by means of loans and investments,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said.
She is also the first German minister to confirm publicly that restrictions on Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei would effectively exclude the company from Germany’s 5G network, said The Sunday Morning Herald report.
“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. “The political ramifications would simply be too grave. China is a country that understands very well the political dimension of IT networks and data flows. I am sure our counterparts in Beijing understand that we Europeans can only operate technology we trust.”
Kramp-Karrenbauer revealed that Germany is working within 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.”
China is Germany’s biggest trading partner and this is the first time that Berlin has openly spoken about its concerns with China.