Does the USA want a peaceful Asia?
New cold war : Europe must respond to China's arms offensive
China is an opportunity. And a danger. Two numbers make one sit up and take notice at the beginning of the People's Congress. Beijing plans, despite Corona, with six percent growth. And with an even higher increase in the military budget: 6.8 percent
The growth and the opportunities to benefit from it have fascinated Europe and export champion Germany for decades. The fact that the local media are also interested in China's armaments is new. Beijing's military is not a direct threat to Europe, but it is to its Asian neighbors. This is now being perceived with growing concern.
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The reasons for this are mainly in Beijing. Economically, China is now as strong as the EU and the USA. It takes less and less consideration of international rules, treaties and the interests of others.
Warnings of a cold or even hot war
Beijing is expanding sovereignty, threatening Taiwan, shredding democracy in Hong Kong, and suppressing Tibetans and Uyghurs. China is the biggest climate sinner, but is doing little to change that and is putting off with the vague announcement that it will become climate neutral by 2060.
Several conflicts come to a head. Experts are now regularly warning of a new Cold War, some even of a hot war. Four questions arise: Can the peace be saved, how can it be done and to whom? As well as: What is the role of Europe and Germany?
Fear of a "Pax Sinica": cemetery peace according to China's rules
The democracies in Asia - Japan, Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and India, which is militarily inferior to China as a recent conflict in the Himalayas showed - fear that Beijing will eventually want to force a "Pax Sinica". China will only remain peaceful and cooperative if its neighbors obey its rules and not criticize, be it the corona policy or the way it deals with dissidents. Otherwise Beijing will respond with sanctions, political and military pressure.
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Freedom of expression and human rights would then only apply to a limited extent in Asia. China's neighbors have their hopes in Europe. The US course under Donald Trump was too confrontational for them. He called for "decoupling", an end to economic cooperation with China. Neither Asia nor Europe want that.
Hope for containment of Beijing by Europe and the USA
According to the analysis of the democracies there, China is pursuing imperialist goals under President Xi, but is not risking war because it jeopardizes the growth that the party needs to secure the allegiance of the population. They expect a common strategy for Europe and the US to contain China through political pressure and a military presence.
Beijing calculates the costs and benefits of its actions. If it could eliminate the democratic counter-model in Taiwan through annexation without risking war, Beijing would probably do that. As long as the US protects Taiwan, that will remain a long-term goal.
China's military is not an immediate threat to Europe. The disproportionate increase in military spending with the aim of subjecting the entire region to the hegemony of China threatens Europe's interest in the validity and expansion of democracy, human rights and economic freedom.
What Germany can do
The EU and Germany can do three things for peace in Asia. First, make an alliance with the democracies there. Second, work out a joint China strategy with the US; the turn from Trump to Joe Biden makes it possible.
Third, build a CSZA: a conference on security and cooperation in Asia modeled on the CSCE. In the systemic conflict with the Soviet Union, it ensured peace and freedom in Western Europe by renouncing violence, disarmament, confidence-building measures including red telephones and insight into the military. China deserves inclusion and respect, but not tolerance for imperial hegemony claims.
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