Tuesday, October 19, 2021
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New German coalition government to toughen stance against China

BERLIN: After 16 years of Angela Merkel’s rule, Germany’s new coalition government may spark a more honest debate on China.
Frederick Kliem, writing in Nikkei Asia, said that US President Joe Biden might be surprised to find a more cooperative partner in Berlin.
In China, Merkel’s indifferent and taciturn approach to the concrete and systemic challenges posed by Beijing caused much frustration.
At home, she was frequently criticized for her disregard of human rights abuses and authoritarianism. In the US and Europe, she was accused of prioritizing Germany’s economic relationship with Beijing without taking a position on Chinese violations of international law, and of failing to show sufficient support for Germany’s partners as new geopolitical failures emerged, Nikkei Asia reported.
Merkel’s retirement will see the transfer of some power to coalition parties and ministries. If Greens co-leader Annalena Baerbock becomes Foreign Minister, the Foreign Ministry is expected to reassert itself with a strong green foreign policy profile.
While it is unclear who will succeed Merkel as chancellor, Olaf Scholz of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) has the upper hand. The narrow loss suffered by Armin Laschet, leader of Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), means that he is still in the race to form a new government.
This election marks the beginning of a new normal: a more fragmented political system where lower voter loyalty means the combined CDU and SPD vote is unlikely to exceed 50 percent.
From now on, the Bundestag will be made up of numerous parties within the scope of 10 percent, making multi-party governing coalitions a standard. Governments will be less stable and comparatively short-lived, and the chancellery less powerful, Kliem predicted.
For those who want Germany to take a stronger position when it comes to China, including Washington, a tripartite “stoplight” coalition may be the best possible outcome, Kliem said.
This represents a unique opportunity to reevaluate Germany’s traditional policy in China and rethink how to reconcile Germany’s economic imperative, which does not suit the current geopolitical dynamics. The palpable global backlash against Beijing has increased pressure on Berlin to clearly position itself alongside its allies, Nikkei Asia reported.
Furthermore, the new AUKUS trilateral security pact involving the US, UK and Australia has not only put Germany in a tight spot between the US and France, its two most important allies, but will force Berlin to face the question you least like to ask. : where to position Germany within the competition of great powers. Until now, he has been miserably silent, Kliem said.
Despite their ideological differences, both the Greens and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) advocate a stronger stance on China and Russia, and the Greens’ electoral manifesto identifies a “systemic rivalry” with Beijing, while downplaying the element. military, Nikkei Asia reported. .
In addition to upholding support for the Hong Kong civil rights movement, the FDP manifesto endorses a closer relationship with Taiwan and remarkably details that it is a “successful democratic counterpart to the People’s Republic of China”, albeit within the one-China framework, and emphasizes the need to protect the integrity of international law.
The traffic light coalition government has the opportunity to align more closely with Germany’s partners and work towards a united transatlantic position on the challenges posed by Beijing, Kliem said.
Such a coalition would also be in a good position to accept some economic risks in order to promote a more proactive and principled Chinese policy, a “foreign policy based on human rights” as the Greens call it.
Although Washington has historically been more comfortable with a CDU-led government, President Joe Biden may find a Scholz-led coalition unexpectedly cooperative with China, Kliem added.
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