Germany must resist US attempt to push Berlin to the frontlines of a confrontational policy vis-à-vis China
MP Sevim Dagdelen in an interview with Global Times, June 13, 2023
„In the absence of close cooperation with China, Germany will risk facing self-isolation and industrial decline in addition to major social upheavals,“ said Sevim Dagdelen, chairwoman of the Left Party parliamentary group in the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the German Bundestag and spokeswoman for international relations and disarmament, after a recent visit to China. In an exclusive interview with Global Times (GT) reporters Wang Zixuan, Yu Jincui and Xing Xiaojing, she called for the German government to resist the US administration’s attempts to push Germany to the frontlines of a confrontational policy vis-à-vis China and for the EU to pursue its own independent policy on China. The following is the full transcript of the interview.
Dagdelen also serves as deputy chairwoman of German-Chinese Parliamentary Friendship Group.
GT: Before visiting China, you stated that „rather than participating in the confrontation with China being pursued by the US, the German government should strengthen relations and dialogue with China and advocate for the European Union to pursue its own independent policy on China.“ What led you to this perspective, and what kind of Germany-China relations would be mutually beneficial for both countries and their peoples?
Dagdelen: The German government must resist the US administration’s attempts to push Germany to the frontlines of a confrontational policy vis-à-vis China. Hundreds of thousands of jobs in Germany depend on good Germany-China relations, especially on cooperation in production and trade. China is Germany’s most important trading partner. Last year, goods worth around 300 billion euros were traded between the two countries. In the absence of close cooperation with China, Germany will risk facing self-isolation and industrial decline in addition to major social upheavals. Incidentally, the German companies I visited in China take a similar view on this issue.
GT: What impressed you the most during your recent trip to China? Based on your observations, what do you think is the biggest misunderstanding of China in the West? What are the reasons for such misunderstandings?
Dagdelen: The wisdom of my interlocutors in China was what impressed me the most. The most serious misunderstanding in the West is thinking that you can push China around and pursue an approach that is based on passing judgement from the outside on what is good or bad. The Western elites have not really broken with their countries‘ colonial history. While they themselves are responsible for terrible wars and war crimes such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan, they believe, in their long-standing arrogance, that they can or indeed must lecture the Global South on questions of morality. They have yet to get to grips intellectually with a multipolar world, a world in which sovereignty and mutual respect are held in high regard.
GT: At a time when some individuals in the US and EU are advocating for „decoupling“ from China, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock recently visited China, followed by Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Qin Gang’s visit to Germany. Additionally, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has invited Chinese Premier Li Qiang to Berlin on June 20 for the seventh round of China-German government consultations. What do these frequent China-German contacts signify, and what trends do they reflect?
Dagdelen: These diplomatic contacts are very important, also with regard to strengthening mutual understanding. It would be good if the dialogue formats that have already been agreed to so far, which are lying dormant, were resumed and there were regular intergovernmental consultations and relations that could be developed into a Germany-China treaty of friendship. My impression, however, is that the German government is currently not pursuing an independent foreign policy, but is essentially following instructions from Washington – to the detriment of the German people.
GT: What’s your take on the „de-risking“ from China raised by some EU politicians?
Dagdelen: Unfortunately, these are just smoke screens that are being put up here. „De-risking“ is simply another word for getting this „de-coupling“ underway, even if that would be foolhardy for the German and European economy. The reality is that the EU institutions want to launch an economic war against China. In the draft of the 11th sanctions package against Russia, Chinese companies were listed for the first time. Of course, Hungary and Greece have put a stop to this madness for the time being with their vetoes, but in the medium term, due to the immense pressure, I expect a shift to Washington’s course as for example in the case of the microchip embargo of the US against China, in which the EU member Netherlands participates.
GT: When it comes to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, what do you think of the peace plan proposed by China and the role China is playing? In what ways can China and Germany cooperate to promote an early end to the war?
Dagdelen: If there were a sovereign German foreign policy, numerous areas of cooperation could doubtlessly be identified with a view to ending the war in Ukraine as quickly as possible at the negotiating table. However, the German government, alongside the US, has chosen to wage a NATO proxy war against Russia by supplying more and increasingly heavy weapons to Ukraine all the while exacerbating a brutal economic war against Moscow, leaving little room for diplomatic peace initiatives.
Anyone who declares a highly dangerous war aim against a nuclear power, like German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock with her call to „ruin Russia,“ is certainly less than amenable to a peace initiative that seeks to put an immediate end to the killing and dying in Ukraine. I have great respect here for the perseverance and determination of China’s mediation efforts. It goes without saying that you have to attempt this, no matter how small the chances of success may be in the short term.
GT: The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has caused divisions within the EU regarding military aid to Ukraine and sanctions against Russia, and the German public has expressed opposition to the German government’s involvement in the conflict. What are the implications of the prolonged conflict for the people of Germany and Europe? How can German contribute to the promotion of peace negotiations?
Dagdelen: Germany is pouring massive amounts of resources into NATO’s proxy war and into the economic war against Russia. The question is how long our country can keep this up. Already today, employees in Germany are suffering the highest real wage losses since the World War II due to the high level of inflation for energy and food. In the first quarter of 2023, Germany fell into an economic recession, while in Russia the economy is growing. More and more people in Germany are taking a very sceptical view of this. According to surveys, two thirds of Germans are against the delivery of fighter jets to Ukraine, for example, and pressure is growing on the German government not to oversee a major social decline among the population here. However, this has not had a positive impact on the willingness to pursue diplomatic peace initiatives to date – although a majority of the population is explicitly calling for this. My impression is that only when there is a willingness in Washington to take an immediate ceasefire into consideration, will we see a change in the German government in Berlin.
GT: You have called for the leave of US troops from Germany, and said that „US foreign policy is marked by war, breaches of international law, and support of coups.“ Why do you have this opinion? How do you view the influence of the US factors on European policy toward China?
Dagdelen: The US is leaving a bloody trail in its wake through world history. In order to protect their imperialist interests, the US elites have been literally walking over dead bodies. This started with the US war on Korea in the 1950s, followed by the wars against Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the 1960s and 1970s with millions of deaths.
According to a recent study by the Costs of War project of the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University in Providence, the US wars after 9/11 in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Pakistan alone have claimed at least 4.5 million lives and displaced 38 million people. Some 7.6 million children under the age of five are suffering from acute malnutrition in these countries today. Nearly one million people have been killed due to direct war violence, including soldiers on all sides of the conflicts, as well as contractors, civilians, journalists and humanitarian workers, while 3.6 to 3.7 million people have died from the health and economic problems caused by these wars, such as disease, malnutrition and damaged infrastructure.
The combined financial cost of the US wars following the terrorist attacks on New York City on September 11, 2001 is about 8 trillion US dollars, according to Brown University. The economic problems resulting from the US wars for the invaded countries are simply devastating. After 20 years of US-led NATO presence in Afghanistan, more than half of the population in the country now lives in extreme poverty.
Some 500,000 children under the age of five died as a result of the US economic war against Iraq in the 1990s. When asked about this, the US secretary of state at the time, Madeleine Albright, said that the price was worth it.
It is a testament to the West’s double standards that not one of the responsible US presidents has been held to account for the millions of people killed in the bombing and economic wars. George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Donald Trump and Joe Biden have all gone unpunished for their violations of international law and mass murders.
And now the US is risking a new big war to counter its decline as a global hegemon. This is the backdrop to the policy of escalation vis-à-vis China. The US has unfortunately assigned Europe the role of a vassal and, at Europe’s expense, it believes that it can slow down its decline by sending Europe to the frontlines of the conflicts with powers that the US considers to be unpalatable.
Both a withdrawal of US troops and an end to this extreme obedience to the detriment of the population in Germany are an existential issue for us. The US is seeking to prevent its vassals from developing an independent foreign policy and is the greatest obstacle to good Germany-China relations in the future. One can state this quite openly here and say that it is not just the transatlantic networks in politics and the media that are playing with fire. It is, above all, US investment funds such as Blackrock, with stakes in all 30 DAX companies, as the largest shareholders in eight of these enterprises, that are currently bent on destroying Germany-China relations. We will either become emancipated from this, or else face the greatest difficulties. The world has no place for the profit of the few, which they are still trying to ensure here at the expense of the hardship of the many.
Source: Global Times