Germany can transcend old Europe

Source:Global Times Published: 2012-8-31 0:40:10

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, currently visiting China, has signed a few cooperative agreements with Beijing, including China's order of 50 Airbus A320s, worth a total of $3.5 billion. During her period of office, bilateral relations have generally maintained a positive trend, despite misunderstandings at times. The two countries now have a more realistic understanding of the importance of stable ties.

Merkel once took the lead among European leaders in meeting the Dalai Lama. Later she was active in promoting Sino-German economic cooperation.

The relationship between China and Germany also represents ties between China and Europe. It is full of individual events, but lacks a strategic long-term plan.

China and the whole of the Asia-Pacific region are undergoing change. Accordingly, the geopolitical position of Germany and Europe will change. Germany has been home to many world-class thinkers. Their successors should be sensitive to the changes in the distribution of global power.

After World War II, Germany was drifting in a bi-polar world. It wasn't until the end of the Cold War and German reunification that the country developed an independent diplomatic space.

In the past two decades, it has devoted itself to developing relationships with the US and EU. As the major promoter of the euro, Germany has become a central member of Europe.

But it seems to be slow in responding to a changing world power structure brought by emerging countries. It also hasn't shown the determination to play a bigger role worldwide. Although Berlin has been taking the lead in starting governmental consultations with China and India, it still sees emerging states from the old perspective.

Old Europe's influence is indeed decreasing, although it has many of the finest legacies in the world. Germany should look beyond the Atlantic-EU system and sees itself with a global perspective. This means playing a leading role in transforming Europe.

The Asia-Pacific region has the fastest growing economies in the world, but also the most worrying political elements. It is highly uncertain how the China-US relationship will evolve. This uncertainty, however, means opportunities for Germany as the largest European country.

Unlike the former Soviet Union, China isn't a threat to Europe. Perhaps out of old habits, European politics still follows the US lead. This has limited the choices of Europe. Merkel has visited China six times. As a former resident of East Germany, she should be able to tell today's China is different from the old Soviet bloc.

Germany has the ability to lead a more independent diplomacy in global politics. It should not bury itself in old Europe.

Posted in: Editorial

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