Anti-China Offensives (I)

NEW DELHI/BERLIN | | indien

NEW DELHI/BERLIN (Own report) - The first German-Indian Government Consultations, which opens today, will be used by Berlin to promote the creation of an alliance in opposition to an emerging China. The German ambassador to New Delhi considers this meeting "a milestone in the cooperation between the two countries." It should strengthen the existing "strategic partnership" between Germany and India. Until now, Berlin has only held government consultations with governments in Europe and Israel. Economic relations will be a prominent focus during these talks. Berlin's relevant business policy organizations are promoting business relations with India, because they promise record-breaking profits. In fact, company relations with India are intended to underpin Berlin's efforts to gain influence, aimed at instrumentalizing traditional Indian-Chinese rivalry, to have this Asian counter-power hamper China's emergence. Therefore, the German government is promoting India's arms buildup. The German chancellor seeks to win New Delhi over as a customer of the Eurofighter. India is supposed to buy more than 120 of these jet fighters for twelve billion US dollars. The EU supports German cooperation plans, seeking, itself, to soon finalize a free trade agreement with India - after having recently signed a declaration on joint Indian Ocean naval activities.

A Milestone

Alongside the German Chancellor, the ministers of defense, of domestic affairs, transportation and education will be participating in today's government consultations. Already yesterday, the German Foreign Minister arrived in New Delhi for preparatory talks. The German ambassador to India characterized the new government consultations as a "milestone in cooperation between the two countries."[1] According to reports, numerous entrepreneurs are in the 175 member German delegation. The talks will focus on the expansion of economic relations. Organizations of the German foreign trade policy are energetically campaigning for business activity in India. For example, the Director General of the Indo-German Chamber of Commerce alleges, "German investors are more convinced than ever before that India is on the road to sustainable growth."[2] As a matter of fact, the Indian economy is now experiencing a strong upswing and German-Indian trade is rapidly growing. According to German government plans, the trade volume is expected to reach 20 billion Euros by next year. Additional German direct investments are also being sought.

Two to Eight

The current growth in German-Indian trade is the result of long years of political engagement. In 2003, the bilateral commodity trade was only at a volume of five billion Euros. Federal and regional government ministers' numerous trips to India, to stimulate trade between the two countries, were only moderately successful. A breakthrough occurred only recently. Last year, German-Indian foreign trade surpassed the 15 billion Euro mark, for the first time, which is still lagging far behind Germany's trade with the much smaller South Korea, and remains out of reach of trade with India's main Asian rival. Trade between Germany and China was at 130 billion Euros in 2010 - tendency rapidly rising. This difference reflects the discrepancy in India's economic development in comparison to China's. Whereas in the People's Republic there has been "an approximate eight-fold rise in the per-capita income, since the 1980s" an expert explains, "it was hardly more than doubled in India." India has but "10 million jobs available in export oriented industries" - in China "it is around 100 million jobs more."[3] "India's super-highways" explained the economics specialist with irony, "are still mainly on the drawing boards, while on China's, traffic is flowing."

From Rival to Enemy

India's sluggish development is not in German interests, because Berlin seeks to use it as an Asian counter-power to the perpetually emerging China. India and China are traditional rivals in their struggles for influence in Asia. Territorial conflicts between the two countries over the region of Arunachal Pradesh, which in 1962 led to war, have yet to be resolved. The détente that has reigned over the past few years between New Delhi and Beijing appears to be giving way to new rivalry. Whereas China, from a position of strength, is seeking economic cooperation with India, their interests are colliding with one another. This is not least of all apparent in the Indian Ocean, where Beijing is securing its trade routes with a chain of port bases ("Strategy of a String of Pearls," [4]) which is considered by India to be an encroachment onto its traditional hegemonic turf. According to reports, Indian elites regard China's emergence as a threat. "A growing number of Indian politicians and military strategists are referring (...) to China, no longer as a rival, but rather as an enemy."[5]

In the Indian Ocean

Berlin and the EU are using the tensions between these two Asian powers to pit India against China. The German government has named New Delhi its "strategic partner" and attempted to reinforce mutual relations with a series of cooperation agreements. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[6]) The government consultations, beginning today, are a continuation of this series. The EU has also named New Delhi its "strategic partner." To reinforce its economic relations to India, it has been negotiating a free trade agreement for several years, due to be signed in the course of this year. This will provide both sides a dramatic boost in their economic relations. During its regular summit in December 2010, the EU and India signed various additional declarations, also aimed at intensifying cooperation. One of these was a declaration of cooperation in the so-called war on terror, through which comprehensive relations between repressive authorities of both parties were initiated. The European-Indian Summit's final declaration contained also a commitment to promote "dialog and cooperation" in the domain of "security and defense," meaning, not least of all, joint "naval operations for combating piracy."[7] The EU Ambassador to India has confirmed that this is not limited to coordinating activities at the Horn of Africa. Future cooperation is aimed more at "combating piracy in the Indian Ocean, outside Somali territorial waters."[8]

Eurofighter

The planned naval cooperation between the EU and India is a supplementary measure toward the expansion of the military and arms cooperation that Berlin has been pursuing for quite some time. The defense ministers of Germany and India had agreed back in September 2006 to initiate a "strategic dialog" and for this purpose, set up a committee that meets annually for security policy discussions. In February, the German Defense Minister conferred with his Indian counterpart in New Delhi. Their topics included the German request that India buy 126 Eurofighter jets (worth approx. twelve billion Euros). The German chancellor will also take up this question in New Delhi on Tuesday. Competition comes from the French Dassault arms manufacturer's Rafale jet fighter. Germany has clearly increased its arms exports to India, which over the past five years has become one of the most important customers for war material on the world market. According to official statistics, German arms exports to India have reached an annual volume of 100 million Euros. This war material is advantageous to China's traditional rival, not in spite of, but because of growing tensions between New Delhi and Beijing.

[1], [2] Indien wird Chefsache; www.handelsblatt.com 29.05.2011
[3] Erich Weede: Es ist die Demographie, Dummkopf! www.faz.net 23.05.2011
[4] see also Am Indischen Ozean
[5] Ernüchterung nach Wens Besuch in Indien; www.nzz.ch 18.12.2010
[6] see also China's Rival
[7] EU-India Summit Joint Statement. Brussels, 10 December 2010
[8] EU - Indien: Freihandelsabkommen in Sicht; www.arte.tv 13.04.2011