German’s new Indo-Pacific strategy takes a tougher approach towards China and focuses on international cooperation

Germany has announced recently that it will take a break from shaping its Asian strategy around China and will focus on building strong partnerships with democracies to promote the rule of law and promote open markets in the region.

"We want to help shape [the future global order] so that it is based on rules and international cooperation, not on the law of the strong," the Nikkei Asian Review article quoted German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas as saying on September 2.

"That is why we have intensified cooperation with those countries that share our democratic and liberal values,” he added.

The strategy synchronizes with the approach taken by France, as well as Japan, Australia, and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), says the article.

The article notes that China accounts for 50 percent of Germany’s trade with the Indo-Pacific region but since economic growth has not opened the Chinese market, German companies operating there are facing difficulties in trade. Further, China's new national security law in Hong Kong and its detention centers for members of the Uighur Muslim minority have led to increasing resistance in Germany to Merkel's pro-China policies.

The new Indo-Pacific strategy of Germany takes a tougher approach towards China including criticism of the vast debt racked up by countries participating in Beijing's Belt and Road infrastructure-building initiative, says the article.

While German companies have concerns over doing business in China, they are hesitant to snub a supersized market. Companies like Volkswagen, BMW, and Daimler also see China as the key to success, the article says.

Nonetheless, the article notes that Berlin plans to work with France towards a European Union-wide strategy on Indo-Pacific and boost its influence on the issue by having the entire block on its side.

Meanwhile, U.K. and France also have begun freezing Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technology out of their 5G networks.

Read the full article in Nikkei Asian Review