Germany has decided to send a frigate to patrol the Indian Ocean so as to counter Chinese influence. In addition, German officers will also assist the Australian Navy in keeping China in check. German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer noted that stability of the Indo-Pacific is crucial to the world’s well-being.
“We believe that Germany needs to mark its position in the region… China is an important trading partner for Germany and we have strong economic ties which are in the interest of both sides… At the same time, we do not turn a blind eye on unequal investment conditions, aggressive appropriation of intellectual property, state-subsidized distortion of competition or attempts to exert influence by means of loans and investments,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said, as reported by The Sydney Morning Herald.
The Indo-Pacific is a region that extends from the Indian Ocean to the Coral Sea. The minister pointed out that Germany’s naval presence in the Indo-Pacific would help protect the rules-based global order. Germany plans to deploy ships in the region next year. At the same time, the country will also be boosting up its defense budget for 2021 despite the fact that COVID-19 has clawed at its economic performance. Germany and Australia are negotiating a plan to integrate German officers into Australian naval units. In addition, Germany is also working to expand NATO’s relationship with Australia. Kramp-Karrenbauer believes that China’s global supremacist ambitions can only be thwarted through multilateral action.
With regard to Huawei 5G, the minister confirmed that the Chinese company would be excluded from the country’s network. She points out that the political ramifications of allowing China to establish control over IT networks and data flows are very grave and that Europeans can only use technology that they can trust. Regarding the Taiwan issue, Kramp-Karrenbauerar firmly believes that any solution outside of a peaceful settlement of issues would be a failure of statecraft and that solely relying on military logic would only end up making losses for the parties involved.
The minister admitted that Beijing’s recent actions have triggered many European nations to rethink how they handle China. Kramp-Karrenbauerar believes that the key factor in countering China would be whether Western nations will be able to remain united while dealing with the Asian nation. The German Navy possesses 80 vessels including 14 patrol vessels, 10 mine-hunters, 9 frigates, 6 submarines, 5 corvettes, and 2 minesweepers.
A new US fleet?
The U.S. Navy is also looking to boost its presence in the Indo-Pacific. Kenneth Braithwaite, Navy Secretary, recently called for the American Navy to set up a new numbered fleet along the border of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, possibly in the Singapore region. Though the U.S. has stationed its 7th fleet in Japan, Braithwaite notes that solely relying on it would be foolhardy if things in the Indo-Pacific get heated up. By having a fleet around Singapore, the U.S. will be in a much better position to cooperate with its allies in Asia and counter Chinese aggression in the area.
Meanwhile, the U.S. recently took part in the 24th edition of the Malabar naval exercise hosted by the Indian Navy. Japan and Australia also participated in the naval exercise activities. The group engaged in cross-deck flying operations, advanced air defense exercises, anti-submarine warfare exercises, weapons firing activities, and so on. All intended to bolster safe sea lanes for all commerce and travelers.