Chancellor candidate Laschet and Defense Minister Kramp-Karrenbauer are calling for Europe to separate itself more strongly from China – otherwise, there is a threat of “control over markets,” including in Germany.
Washington Leading CDU politicians warn of China’s growing influence on the global economy, human rights, and future technologies. In a series of essays, Chancellor candidate Armin Laschet, Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, and the German government’s Transatlantic Coordinator Peter Beyer call for a strategic closing of ranks with the United States.
The contributions will appear next week as part of the commemorative publication “Forging the New West,” which is available to Handelsblatt. In it, Laschet urges European capacity to act. “Only then will we also be a strong partner for our transatlantic friends,” he writes.
Europe and the U.S. need to move forward on digitization and “reach an agreement on standards for new technologies,” the CDU and CSU candidate for chancellor said. “Not least, this would send a clear – and perhaps the most important – the signal to the People’s Republic of China. Because transatlantically, we share the view that China is not only a negotiating partner and competitor but also a system rival.”
Kramp-Karrenbauer warned against too much dependence on Chinese economic power. “China, with its geopolitical ambition and powerful claim to dominance, does not have much in mind with an open society, human rights, and living democracy,” the defense minister argued.
“Beijing does not want fair interlinking of supply chains; it wants to gain control over markets and over the political actions of other states, including Europe, including us in Germany,” Kramp-Karrenbauer criticizes.
With regard to China, the transatlantic relationship has “become a question of fate.” Because: “We Europeans will not be able to remain free and secure without the USA. And the U.S. alone, without the large and influential economic bloc of the European Union, will not be able to compete easily with China.”
Neutrality “naive and dangerous”
CDU member of parliament Peter Beyer will edit the commemorative publication marking the 40th anniversary of the post of transatlantic coordinator; Beyer has held the post since 2018. Among others, it features guest contributions from Foreign Minister Heiko Maas (SPD), former U.S. Ambassador to Germany John B. Emerson, and economic and trade experts.
“With China, we are dealing with an economically successful dictatorship that we have underestimated for far too long,” Beyer warns, calling China’s Belt and Road Initiative “worrying.”
Neutrality on the China issue would be “naive and dangerous.” To be sure, complete decoupling is “unrealistic in times of advanced globalization, tech revolution, and climate change.” But the West must “play out its shared values much more strongly,” Beyer urges. “Together, the Western countries are much better positioned than China, just in terms of economic performance.”
U.S. President Joe Biden wants to win Europe over to a far-reaching alliance against China but is meeting resistance, particularly in Germany. Among other things, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to push ahead with the EU-China investment agreement had provoked anger in Washington.
Most recently, the transatlantic partners agreed on common strategic goals: The seven leading industrialized nations (G7) agreed at their summit in June to cooperate closely on China policy.