By Elisabeth Hellenbroich
US President Trump and his Foreign Minister Mike Pompeo in the last days have gone into a multi-pronged attack that is simultaneously aimed at China, Russia and Europe, as well as directed against the US population in several US cities. The President apparently desperately hopes that this attack mode will bring him closer to electoral victory in November.
Along with the “war” in US cities where a Militia – force, armed to its teeth, is fighting against demonstrators (Portland, Louisville), the American Government ordered several days ago the closure of the Chinese Consulate in Houston, arguing that the closure was carried out in “order to protect” intellectual American property and private American information. This step is of “symbolic” significance since Houston was the first diplomatic site- after the opening of US / Chinese diplomatic relations in 1972 under then US President Richard Nixon and his NSC advisor Henry Kissinger, to open its consulate.
Foreign Minister Pompeo was sent on a mission to India, followed by a visit to Europe July 20-22- to London and Denmark. In London after a meeting between Pompeo and PM Boris Johnson and Foreign Minister Dominic Raab, the British government acted demonstratively by banning the Chinese company Huawei from building a G 5 Mobile net in Great Britain and declared more sanctions against Russia. In Denmark Pompeo met PM Mette Fredriksen, trying to pressure Denmark on China as well as on Nord Stream II (Denmark recently had agreed in favor of the Nord Stream II gas pipeline project). In a speech on July 23 in the “Presidential library Richard Nixon” in California, Pompeo referred 27 times to the Chinese “Communist party,” stating: “If we want to have a free 21rst century and not a Chinese century, which Xi Jinping dreams of, the old paradigm of a blind approach to China will no more work.” He stated that this was the end of the policy which once was initiated by Richard Nixon in 1972 during his China visit. The Chinese government has answered to the US challenge by closing a US Consulate in Chengdu, yet they try at the same to handle the affair moderately in light of the upcoming US elections in November.
Russia and China
The US attacks against China have strengthened the resolve on the Russian side to intensify ties with China. More than a week ago (July 17) Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi had a lengthy telephone discussion with Sergej Lavrov in which Wang Yi told his Russian counterpart that the “US has lost its mind, morals and credibility” while stating that Beijing and Moscow should work together on issues of global importance, like Covid -19 and regional security. “The US has bluntly pursued its ‘America first’ policy, pushing egoism, unilateralism and bullying to the limit, and that’s not what a great power should be about,” Wang Yi said. He stated that Beijing wants to boost its strategic coordination with Moscow, describing its relationship as “priority.” The two ministers called for an “alliance of interests” while expressing the mutual commitment to continue close cooperation in fighting Covid-19 including within the World Health organization and in other multilateral formats.
Europe reactions on China
In Germany several reactions from the recent period underline that it’s definitely not in the interest of German industry or the official policy to follow in line with Trump’s China policy. According to a study issued by the “Institute of the Economy” (Institut der Wirtschaft, Köln) the Corona pandemics has accelerated a process, in the course of which China could become Germany’s most important export destination country. The report written by Galina Kolev, senior economist and chairwoman of the research group of macroeconomic analysis and economic situation at the Institute- analyzed that while German exports to China in May slowed down by 11,2% to 7,2 billion Euro, German exports to the US fell by 36,5%(!) to 6,6 billion. Worldwide exports grew in China in the month of June by 2,7%. According to Kolev China could become a key export destination country and the EU would be the biggest trade partner of China.
From the official policy side German Chancellor Merkel according to NTV (July 13) prudently criticized China stating that “there is no reason not to have dialogue with China.” Earlier on July 11 after a videoconference with the EU commission, she had stated that “relations with China were important, they are of strategic significance.” German Economics Minister Altmaier in turn had stated to the German “Wirtschaftswoche” magazine (11.07.) that trade relations can’t be uniquely oriented according to how democratic a country is. He refused demands to exclude the Chinese company Huawei. “We will not exclude Huawei from the 5G Net. There can only be exclusion if the national security is endangered.”
From the side of German industry, Matthias Zachert, chief manager of the German Specialty Chemical company “Lanxess”, in an interview with FAZ (July 14.) underlined that China is the biggest chemical market of the world , “40% of the market is there and it has the biggest growth. We have 1000 employees there and will be clearly also present in the future. Of course we Germans would be happy that all countries had the same understanding about rule of law and similar governance standards as we have. But China has 1,3 billion inhabitants and we in the Western world have difficulty to understand such a huge country.”
US blackmail On Russia/ EU pipeline Nord Stream II
Parallel to Trump’s new Cold War against China and his attempt to form a new Alliance against China, US pressure has particularly intensified on Germany and various European companies that are involved in the Nord Stream II gas pipeline project. The latest escalation began when the “House of Commons of the US Congress” July 22nd passed a resolution to prolong and aggravate the sanctions against the Russian pipeline project Nord Stream II, by adding an “amendment” to the so called “National Defense Authorization Act” which demands even sharper sanctions against companies that are participating in the construction of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. This occurred despite the fact that EU Vice president Josep Borrell had warned about this as being an inacceptable step vis-a-vis third countries that are engaged in legitimate business. He expressed doubt concerning the effects of threat of sanctions against European companies and interests.
The pressure is authorized on the basis of “Countering Americas Adversaries through Sanctions Act” (CAATSA). Aside the Russian Gazprom company the sanctions are directed against 5 European energy companies which includes the French firm Engie, Austria’s OMV, British and Netherland’s Royal Dutch Shell and the German company Uniper and Wintershall. The 14 billion Euro pipeline project( 1230 km) could transport 55 billion cubic meter of gas per annum from Russia to Germany; it is almost ready and only 160 km remain to be constructed. However as “Welt am Sonntag” (July 26) has documented, Washington has decided to step up its war even more against Europe on the issue of Nord Stream II. In the last days managers from individual Europe companies were called and confronted during individual Video conferences by a group of 12 US Representatives (US State Department, Treasury and Finances) who threatened the individual companies with sanctions – “You either get out of it or you will bear the consequences”- to go into effect as of July 15. (This includes travel ban and the control of local banks.) The official line given from the US officials was to quit the entire multibillion Euro project and buy instead the expansive US liquefied gas (“Freedom Gas”). The chairman of the “Committee on Eastern European economic Relations” (Ost-Ausschuss der Deutschen Wirtschaft), Oliver Harms, has called this procedure “the absolute low point in terms of Transatlantic relations.” The US would “trample” on fair competition and shamelessly use sanctions in order to push through its own economic interests. He called upon the European Commission to react sharply to this blackmail and to deter attacks against its sovereignty.