Future Conflicts


BERLIN/ULAAN BAATAR/BEIJING (Own report) - Just days before the NATO summit, Germany is enhancing its position in Eastern Asia, with the objective of weakening China. To enhance its influence in the region, Germany is using Mongolia, whose prime minister visited Berlin for talks concerning an intensification of business and military cooperation between the two countries. Already years ago, Berlin was saying that situated between Russia and China, Mongolia is in an "excellent position" in the "geostrategic power constellation", and that their efforts to resist Chinese influence must be supported. The German government and German businesses are now reinforcing their activities in the region. One of these businesses, the Deutsche Bahn AG, is intervening in the sensitive sector of Mongolia's raw materials transport. The German Bundeswehr is stabilizing also its military cooperation with Mongolia's armed forces. Germany's growing influence is being accompanied by the renewed efforts of its NATO ally, the USA, to reinforce the West's position in East and Southeast Asia. All of these activities are aimed at encircling China.

Last week, the Mongolian Prime Minister, accompanied by a government and business delegation of forty people, carried out intensive talks in Germany. Alongside negotiations with heads of German enterprises, talks with German Chancellor Merkel, Minister of the Economy, Guttenberg and the President of the German Parliament, Lammert were on the program. The prime minister also paid Defense Minister Jung a call and made an appearance at the 8th "Mongolian-German Forum" in Berlin. Chancellor Merkel promised a return visit to Ulaan Baatar.

In a Vice

Germany is interested in Mongolia mainly for geostrategic reasons. Two years ago, at the sixth Mongolian-German Forum in the German capital, that East Asian country was described as being situated directly "between the jaws of a vice."[1] This formulation refers to Mongolia's being sandwiched between Russia and China, the two great powers that have always exercised a predominating influence over Ulaan Baatar. When at the beginning of the 90s, Moscow suffered serious setbacks in its power and China had not yet reached its current power status, Berlin sought to exploit the period of upheaval, rapidly extending its contacts to Mongolia. The objective is to establish a significant German presence on Russia's southeast flank but especially at China's northwest border, a presence that can serve to constrain both rival powers. In addition, whoever exercises influence on Mongolia, has also a relatively direct influence on a large area of China, the Inner Mongolia autonomous region.[2] Particularly Japan, South Korea and the USA are active in Ulaan Baatar alongside Germany, with the same objectives, and are reinforcing the position of the West.

Raw Materials

In Germany's efforts to win influence, it is beneficial for the government that Mongolia is among the ten richest countries in raw materials. This has awakened an interest in German businesses to increase activity in the country, in spite of the difficult overall conditions. Last week, Minister of the Economy, Guttenberg, signed an accord for the training of Mongolian management personnel in Germany, which, according to the ministry, should "enhance German business opportunities to gain a foothold on the Mongolian market."[3] China is currently dominating Mongolia's foreign trade (56%) and in direct foreign investments (40%). German business activities are meant to diminish Chinese influence. Berlin is, above all, worried that with extensive raw materials exploitation, "massive pressure for mining rights could be brought to bear by - for the most part - state-owned Chinese and Russian companies."[4] From its side, the German government is exerting pressure on behalf of German companies and has urged the Mongolian prime minister - successfully - to accept to open the market to German companies: Ulaan Baatar wants to diversify its dependence.

Deutsche Bahn

An accord reached between the Deutsche Bahn AG and a Mongolian company for the construction of a 260 kilometer rail connection, could serve as a prime example. The route will lead from the Tavan Tolgoi coal mine to China. Tavan Tolgoi is Mongolia's largest coal deposit and one of the ten largest deposits in the world. This is how Berlin seeks to obtain influence over the People's Republic of China's logistic supplies. Last week, Prime Minister Bayar visited a coal fuel power station and a soft coal strip mine of the giant German RWE energy company and is prepared to reorient more on the German model in questions of coal exploitation. With this new rail link, the Deutsche Bahn AG is reinforcing its overall position in East Asia, which it had already been extending through its regular Germany to China freight transport via Russia.[5]


To its business influence in this geostrategic important country, Berlin is adding a military component. Last week, the Mongolian Defense Minister met with his German counterpart, Jung, in Berlin for the second time in four months. The two ministers had already had an exchange of views on the existing cooperation in military and security policy in November 2008. Cooperation is also taking place under the auspices of the German-American George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Bavaria).[6] This exposes the transatlantic orientation of German military activities in Mongolia.

Encircling China

The extension of German influence in Mongolia is taking place at a time when the USA is seeking to reinforce its position in East and Southeast Asia - against China. Japan's prime minister was the first foreign head of government to visit the White House after the new US president took office. President Obama declared his intention to significantly enhance cooperation with Japan. Shortly thereafter US Secretary of State, Clinton, made her first official foreign visit - also to Japan. The second leg of her trip took her to Indonesia, a nation the USA is also seeking to bring into position against China. US efforts in Japan and Indonesia are now being reinforced by German efforts but in Mongolia, rather than in Southeast Asia (german-foreign-policy.com reports [7]). This intensifies China's encirclement. The German-American activities could lead to serious conflicts in China's direct vicinity.

[1] Die Mongolei: Objekt der Begierde im Spannungsfeld der Großmächte. Referate der 6. Konferenz des Mongolisch-Deutschen Forums, 16. Oktober 2007, Berlin, www.kas.de. See also Identität and Eurasian Bridgehead
[2] see also Strategies of Attrition (III)
[3] Zu Guttenberg lässt mongolische Manager in Deutschland fortbilden; Pressemitteilung des Bundesministeriums für Wirtschaft und Technologie 26.03.2009
[4] Die Mongolei: Objekt der Begierde im Spannungsfeld der Großmächte. Referate der 6. Konferenz des Mongolisch-Deutschen Forums, 16. Oktober 2007, Berlin, www.kas.de
[5] see also "Verkehrsraum" - bis nach China, German Industrial Standard (DIN) and Zum zweiten Mal
[6] see also Den Rückzug abschneiden, Das östliche Grenzgebiet and Eurasischer Brückenkopf
[7] see also Subregional Arms Race, Driving Force, Strategisches Scharnier and Den Gürtel schließen