Geopolitics on Washington’s Behalf—Or a
Policy for the Common Aims of Mankind?
Nov. 5—No matter who wins the United States elections this coming Tuesday, every country in the world is going to have to re-evaluate its own strategic situation and fundamental interests, and realign its policies. In the event the hawkish Hillary Clinton wins, Germany’s foreign policy will immediately be presented with the challenge of refusing to be drawn into a direct military confrontation between the United States and Russia—a situation Clinton’s announced Syrian policy threatens to bring about. If Donald Trump wins, it will be a totally new roll of the dice.
Given this situation, what an opportunity was lost during German Economics Minister Sigmar Gabriel’s recent trip to China! Like a well-trained poodle who dutifully attempted to carry out Washington’s agenda, Gabriel mutated into the proverbial bull in a china shop during the run-up to the trip and the five days he spent in Beijing, Chengdu, and Hong Kong.
Germany can—still—play a unique role in averting the clearly recognizable imminent catastrophe of a military confrontation between the West, and Russia and China, and in setting a new course toward a positive outcome of the current epoch through deliberate cooperation with the New Silk Road dynamic. But Gabriel basically mucked up this opportunity.
As the business daily Handelsblatt pointed out, in the run-up to the trip, the German government, by order of U.S. intelligence services, blocked Chinese investment in the Aachen firm Aixtron, by revoking the security clearance required for the takeover. Marc Tuengler, chief executive officer of the German Society for the Protection of Securities Holders, which represents the interests of the Aixtron shareholders, reproached Gabriel for harming Germany and carrying out the Obama Administration’s dirty work against China. In light of the fact that Aixtron in recent years has delivered many chip-producing machines to China—as did the American competitor firm Veeco, which stands to benefit from this action—the argument against the deal, that Aixtron’s production involves technologies which could be used militarily as well as civilian purposes, is untenable.
Of course the United States—which, in contrast to China, pays more attention to the nominal appreciation of speculative profits than to the real economy—is fearful of losing its military dominance as a superpower with its unipolar demands, but that does not stop it from benefiting monetarily from its geopolitical confrontation with Russia and China at the expense of its allies, on whom it imposes its conditions.
To this end the U.S. Treasury’s sanctions czar Adam Szubin visited Berlin, Rome, and Paris last week to argue the importance of maintaining the existing sanctions against Russia. Within German industrial circles it’s no secret that, in spite of the sanctions, U.S. industry has increased its trade with Russia, while, for example, the machine tool sector in Baden-Wuerttemberg has recorded a loss of 50% of its exports to Russia—as the former head of German industry’s Committee on Eastern European Economic Relations, Klaus Mangold, stressed to the Schwäbische Zeitung. If you think about the enormous political, economic, and social consequences of these sanctions, it is absolutely embarrassing how easily German industry caves in, instead of using its influence with the government.
Minister Gabriel Needs New Glasses
Gabriel did his best, both before and during his China trip, to stick to the anti-Chinese line of the European Union (EU). Thus, he demanded new EU laws and regulations in order to block unwelcome Chinese direct investment in Germany. Daimler head Dieter Zetsche countered him energetically and confronted him with the obvious question: Who should set the criteria for declaring an investor unwelcome—should the government do so, thereby going back to protectionism? China now educates substantially more engineers than Germany does, he said, so the argument that China has to copy our technologies is nonsense.
During his visit to Hong Kong for the conference of the Asia-Pacific Committee of German Industry, Gabriel also carried out the EU policy of using relations with the ASEAN nations as a counter-weight to China—a policy defended by EU foreign affairs representative Federica Mogherini.
What goes around comes around. The planned joint opening of a German-Chinese industry event by Gabriel and Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng was called off, as was his meeting with Reform Commission Chairman Liu He and a joint press conference with Prime Minister Li Keqiang.
The few useful results of the trip lay, and lie, in the fact that the 60-person industrial delegation certainly understands the fundamental advantages of cooperation with China, as well as the indisputable fact that the music of the future in regard to economic and strategic matters is playing in Asia, and no longer in the trans-Atlantic sector.
Gabriel’s behavior before and during the trip is almost an object lesson in how—by wearing the glasses of the old, geopolitical paradigm—we, at best, distort and misrepresent reality. Thus unfortunately we overlook the fact that the unique opportunity for overcoming that geopolitics—which brought us two world wars in the Twentieth Century and which today, in the era of thermonuclear weapons, can mean the possible extinction of mankind—lies in China’s offer of “win-win cooperation” in the development of the New Silk Road. All those who are wearing geopolitical glasses can only project their own geopolitical outlook on others, and cannot imagine that mankind is capable of defining a higher level of reason in which cooperation for mutual benefit is actually possible.
It obviously escaped the intelligence department of the Economics ministry, in its preparations for the trip, that for a good three years, and especially over the last few months, exactly this principle of “win-win cooperation” has progressed by giant steps, leading to a complete realignment of the Asian nations. But that’s what comes from taking one’s evaluations from such anti-China think tanks as the Mercator Institute for China Studies (MERICS) of the Mercator Foundation, which even recommends selling military equipment to the ASEAN countries, to protect them from China!
China’s Offer to the United States
It is not only countries such as Malaysia, Vietnam, Myanmar, Indonesia, and the Philippines that have long since preferred the advantages of economic cooperation with China over the disadvantages of military confrontation with China in the South China Sea. India also figured out long ago that the overtures which the United States and the EU are making toward the “world’s most populous democracy,” are bringing fewer benefits to India than close collaboration with Russia and China, an alliance which Japan has moved closer to in the recent period.
The 16+1 states in Central and Eastern Europe have likewise finally recognized the opportunities of direct cooperation with China’s Silk Road initiative. Thus Latvia, at the Nov. 5 summit in Riga, signed a joint declaration of intent for cooperation with the New Silk Road with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang.
Russian Prime Minister Medvedev has just emphasized, in an interview with Chinese state television (CCTV), that the efforts to fully integrate the Silk Road initiative with the Eurasian Economic Union are moving ahead, and thus offer a completely new perspective for cooperation. It is cooperation through the creation of national markets, and the joint development of high-tech production and new waves of industrialization, in areas which Russia did not have before, but is now compelled to create because of the sanctions.
Everyone who sees the world as it is, and whose perspective has not been distorted by those geopolitical glasses, can see that more and more regions of Eurasia are converging, and thus the vision of a common Eurasian economic space from the Atlantic to the Pacific offers the immediate opportunity for overcoming the war danger through common development. The “win-win cooperation” that China proposes is in no way anti-American, but, since the APEC summit in October of 2014 in Beijing, has been an explicit offer to the United States. The best favor we in Europe can do for the United States is to urge the acceptance of this new paradigm of cooperation.
This article first appeared in German in the weekly Neue Solidarität.