Prof. ST Hsieh
Director, US-China Energy Industry Forum
April 13, 2023
The US and China are competing for global supremacy. The Taiwan issue is merely a small chip in the bigpowers’ global game. Europe is never a unified political body, a case in mind is that Russia as a European nation but it has never been fully accepted as a “family member.” Great Britain recently withdrew from European Union (EU) is a clear signal that Europe is splitting, and EU does not speak with one voice or represent Europe. So, there is no sense to blame French President Macron speaks for EU or the Europe. The same is true when officials from Germany speak, at best he/she speaks for Germany and not for EU. Because Germany has a coalition government without a dominate majority party, often Germany officials even contradict each other.
The following news headlines are a bit confusing: Germany’s government appealed for efforts to reduce tensions over Taiwan as the German foreign minister arrived in China on Thursday for official talks. It reads as if German foreign minister is on a peace-making trip to China for Taiwan. But the matter of facts is she is visiting China for German’s national interests namely stabilizing German bilateral trades with China and discussing the war/peace in Ukraine. Specifically, the war in Ukraine is getting out of hands because, even with almost unlimited supports from the west, Ukraine is no where near the end demanded by Zelenskyy. Further, the US led efforts have no end insight that Putin will pull back. The continuing of the senseless war in Ukraine is draining the spirit and economy of the world, especially Europe, or Germany specifically.
Yes, “As a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, China bears a special responsibility for world peace.” But there are four other permanent members of the UN Security Council, namely US, France, Britain, and Russia. Unfortunately, US, France and Britain are in war with Russia. These warring parties have the real responsibility and ability of making peace in Ukraine.
German is the largest economy in Europe, but she has limited bandwidth, if she were not able to persuade France and Britain to stop the Ukraine war in Europe, how German is addressing the Taiwan issue?
Germany appeals for reducing tensions over Taiwan
Thu, April 13, 2023 at 12:13 AM PDT
BEIJING (AP) — Germany’s government appealed for efforts to reduce tensions over Taiwan as the German foreign minister arrived in China on Thursday for official talks following Chinese military exercises near the self-governed island democracy that Beijing claims is part of its territory.
Annalena Baerbock arrived in the northeastern port city of Tianjin for meetings and was due to hold talks with her Chinese counterpart, Qin Gang, on Friday in Beijing and with senior diplomat Wang Yi on Saturday. Her ministry said she would discuss Taiwan, Ukraine, human rights and other issues with Chinese officials.
“Threatening military gestures” increase “the risk of unintentional military confrontations,” a spokesperson for Baerbock’s ministry, Andrea Sasse, said in Berlin.
“We therefore call on all partners in the region and are working also with our international partners to contribute to a de-escalation in the Strait of Taiwan,” Sasse said Wednesday.
European governments are increasingly worried about Chinese pressure on Taiwan, a global high-tech center and one of the biggest trading economies.
European governments with the exception of Vatican City have diplomatic relations with Beijing instead of Taiwan but maintain informal and commercial relations with the island. European legislators have visited Taiwan and met Tsai to show support in the face of Chinese intimidation.
On Ukraine, Baerbock said in a statement issued by her ministry that Germany’s interest in “bringing the war on our European doorstep in Ukraine to a swift, lasting and just end” was at the top of her agenda for the visit.
Germany has strongly backed Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s invasion, while Beijing has blamed the U.S. and NATO for provoking the conflict.
While trade and investment between them remain strong, Germany has grown increasingly wary of China’s growing influence in its economy.
Germany has ordered a new security assessment of Chinese company COSCO’s plan to purchase a 25% stake in a container terminal in Hamburg amid heavy criticism from many in Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government, throwing the deal into doubt and prompting strong complaints from Beijing.
“We hope Germany can refrain from politicizing business cooperation, making it something about ideology or security, or artificially setting up obstacles,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a briefing Thursday.
Baerbock warns Europe against turning blind eye to tensions over Taiwan
Thu, April 13, 2023 at 6:12 AM PDT
BERLIN (Reuters) – Europe must not turn a blind eye to tensions between China and Taiwan because a military escalation in the region would be a “worst-case scenario” for the global economy, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Thursday.
Speaking during a visit to China, Baerbock backed European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who took a tougher stance than recently taken by French President Emmanuel Macron during a joint visit to Beijing, and also called for a de-risking of relations with China.
She said Europe needed to maintain a close exchange with Beijing, one of the bloc’s biggest trade partners, but also to draw lessons from Russia’s war in Ukraine by tackling “unhealthy” dependencies on China.
“This doesn’t mean decoupling, but it means minimizing one’s risks and realizing that economic dependencies can also create dangers,” she said.
While Macron had called on the EU to reduce its dependence on the U.S., Baerbock stressed the importance of global security alliances with partners sharing the same values.
Macron had warned the European Union last week not to get “caught up in crises that are not ours” with regard to Taiwan.
“Germany and the European Union are economically vulnerable, which means that we cannot be indifferent to the tensions in the Taiwan Strait,” Baerbock said in an audio file provided by her ministry during a stopover in the Chinese port of Tianjin.
CLEAR AND UNITED
Macron’s comments drew a backlash in the United States and Europe as they were widely perceived as taking a weak line on Taiwan and a gift to what analysts called Beijing’s goal of dismantling transatlantic unity.
As a result, the stakes of Baerbock’s inaugural China trip have risen, with many EU members hoping Germany will use the opportunity to set out a clear and united EU line on China.
“Fifty percent of global trade passes through the Taiwan Strait (and) 70% of semiconductors pass through the Taiwan Strait, so the free passage is in our economic interest as well,” Baerbock said.
“A military escalation in the Taiwan Strait … would be a worst-case scenario globally and affect us as one of the biggest industrial nations in particular,” she added of Germany, the EU’s largest economy.
Tianjin was Baerbock’s first stop on a China trip expected to focus on damage control in the wake of Macron’s remarks, which suggested a rift in the EU’s approach to the rising superpower.
Even without Macron’s comments, the visit would have been delicate for Baerbock, who has been more hawkish on China than German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and is drafting a China policy aimed at reducing German dependence on trade with Beijing.
She urged China to use its influence on Moscow to end what she called “Russia’s brutal war of aggression” in Ukraine, which Moscow describes as a special military operation.