Communists face a green German nightmare
Two major obstacles stand in Beijing’s path as it prepares to strengthen its influence over Germany and gain support for its trade deal with the European Union.
First of all, there is the concern of many parliamentarians in the European Union about the trade agreement. More specifically, their concern at the refusal of the Communists to adopt international protections against the use of forced labor under this agreement. Faced with the communists’ genocidal campaign against the Uyghur people of Xinjiang province, these lawmakers warn that they will refuse to ratify the agreement unless Xi Jinping changes course. As Xi refuses to commit to verifiable protections against forced labor, it is difficult to see how the European Parliament will ratify the deal. Beijing hasn’t really helped itself here by recently imposing sanctions on a number of MEPs.
Beijing’s second problem is a person rather than a specific policy. Namely, Annalena Baerbock, leader of the German Green Party. Why should Baerbock arouse the fear of the Communists?
Well, because German voters will elect a new government in September. And because Baerbock is much more skeptical of his alignment with the Communists than are his main center-right and center-left rivals. A recent poll (Wikipedia: Opinion Poll for Germany’s Federal Election 2021) suggests the Greens may be on the verge of pioneering the September elections. Baerbock also appears to have a confident lead among voters as the preferred party leader to become chancellor. The charismatic young leader of the Greens certainly contrasts with the older and more traditional other major party leaders, Armin Laschet of the center-right CDU-CSU and Olaf Scholz of the center-left SDP. We should expect Baerbock’s support to increase as his campaign presents the tale of a fresh start after more than 15 years as Prime Minister of Angela Merkel.
This brings us back to the concern of the Communists.
After all, Baerbock and his party are opposed to Xi’s trade deal. A Green Party policy document observes that “trade is a powerful lever for defending and strengthening human rights and fundamental democratic values. Unfortunately, the EU-China investment deal, hastily concluded by the German government late last year, defeats this very goal. “
The problem for Beijing is that even if Baerbock’s Green Party does not win enough seats in the Bundestag to secure its position as chancellor, the Greens are likely to be another party’s main coalition partner. And if, for example, Armin Laschet has to count on Baerbock to form a ruling coalition, he will have to make significant concessions to him. Considering that human rights and the environment are the two priority foreign policy concerns for the Green Party, it seems unlikely that the Communists’ trade deal will survive a possible Laschet-Baerbock coalition deal.
It is getting worse for Beijing.
While, like most German politicians, Baerbock is skeptical of meeting NATO’s defense spending target of 2% of GDP, she says Germany should increase military investment and play a role. more active role in global security affairs. With France having deployed attack submarines in the South China Sea to exercise with the US Navy, and Britain to send an aircraft carrier to those same waters this summer, Germany is under pressure to take similar action. Chancellor Angela Merkel has tried to calm American pressure in this regard by pledging to send a German destroyer into the Indian Ocean later this year. Of course, the Indian Ocean is not the South China Sea! Baerbock portends a more daring security policy in favor of Germany’s democratic values.
Beijing’s trade interests with Germany and the European Union almost certainly rest on the election of a CDU-CSU coalition government alongside the SDP. It is becoming clear that the prospect of such a government is increasingly unlikely. Beijing should be wary of being swept away by a green wave.
(Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner Foreign Policy Writer)
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