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Military threat from China? Germans and Americans react so differently

The assessments could hardly be further apart.

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Military threat from China? Germans and Americans react so differently

The assessments could hardly be further apart. Two out of three Americans, 64 percent, see China as a major military threat to the United States. In Germany, on the other hand, only seven percent of respondents think that China is a threat to Germany.

Every second German (51 percent) says: China does not pose a military threat. In the USA, just seven percent hold this view. The survey data, compiled by the Washington think tank Pew and the Körber Foundation, correspond to the public debate in Germany and the USA as far as the relationship with Beijing is concerned.

China is omnipresent in the United States. Just last week, President Joe Biden's administration named the People's Republic - and not Russia - as the greatest geopolitical threat. "Beijing wants to expand its sphere of influence in the Indo-Pacific region and become the leading power in the world," says the American national security strategy. From the US perspective, China is the only competitor that wants to transform the international order and has the economic, military and technological power to do so.

As the world's leading power, the United States naturally views any country that could potentially outperform it as a challenge. In this respect, Germany, which is neither a leading world power nor wants to be, looks at an emerging power like China with different eyes.

But the view of Beijing from Washington and Berlin also differs in other respects. For decades, Germany and the US nurtured China, which supported its admission to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001.

Both countries traded and still trade with China: Germany relies primarily on the People's Republic as a sales market, while the USA mainly imports cheap goods from China. And even more: Germany even pays development aid to China, in 2020 around half a billion euros.

In recent years, however, Germany and the USA have been dealing with China more differently than in previous decades. Joe Biden has effectively adopted the attitude critical of Beijing that his predecessor Donald Trump established. He does not use Trump's aggressive and polemical rhetoric. On the matter, however, the US President is taking even more consistent action against China, as the security strategy shows, for example.

"That's the usual language," says China correspondent Frank Sieren on Xi Jinping's speech on the Taiwan conflict. Although it is new that the Chinese head of state is emphasizing the clout of his military, one can still speak of the status quo.

Source: WORLD

Despite enormous inflation and price pressure, Biden has not relaxed or even abolished the punitive tariffs imposed by Trump on Chinese imports. So far there are no indications of such plans.

Foreign Minister Antony Blinken fought a fierce verbal duel with his Chinese colleague right at the beginning of Biden's term in office. The US relationship with China will be "competitive where it should be, cooperative where it can be, and adversarial where it must be," Blinken said. Many Americans have little faith in US democracy, Beijing's foreign policy officer Yang Jiechi accused Blinken. That set the tone.

Germany, on the other hand, is still cautious about China's Communist Party, which is currently celebrating its 20th congress. Under Chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU), the motto was "change through trade", although in reality it was only about trade and never about change.

Merkel traveled to China once a year, taking dozens of business leaders with her and reciting the formulas of China's historical significance. While she received the Dalai Lama at the beginning of her chancellorship (to the annoyance of appeasement foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (SPD)), such a step was unthinkable in the final years of her government.

At the beginning of November, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), a foreign policy novice, wants to travel to Beijing to meet President Xi Jinping. This was first reported by "Politico". Scholz would also like to take company bosses with him, after all, China is Germany's largest trading partner. Neither politicians nor companies seem to see this as a problem. Meanwhile, the China strategy of Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens), almost a year in office, is still a long way off.

In the US, meanwhile, China's military aggression in the Taiwan Straits is viewed with eagle eyes. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the island, which considers itself independent.

Only a delegation of relatively unknown members of the German Bundestag made the trip to Taipei from Germany in October. Pelosi also repeatedly addresses the fate of the Uyghurs, the Muslim minority persecuted by Beijing. In Berlin one hears about it far less often.

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