The Alliance Question
Transatlantic circles in Germany call for German participation in the growing US aggression against China.
BERLIN/WASHINGTON (Own report) - The United States and transatlantic oriented circles in Germany are increasing pressure on Berlin to participate in the West's "disengagement" from China. "The alliance question" is "ripe for decision," declared Mathias Döpfner, CEO of the Axel Springer SE media group. Germany must cease the "aberration" of economic cooperation with the People's Republic of China and formally position itself in opposition to Beijing. This is the result of the global shift in power that is becoming apparent through the Corona crisis. Whereas China has obviously overcome the low-point of this crisis and is already headed back to economic growth, an improvement of the situation in the USA and Europe is not yet on the horizon. Observers are speculating that the western powers' "influence and significance" will probably "continue to dwindle." Whereas Washington is mulling whether to lift China’s sovereign immunity, to permit damage lawsuits, powerful forces in the German economy are seeing their crisis exit in business with China.
"A New Duel of Systems"
The global shift in power that is becoming apparent through the Corona crisis (german-foreign-policy.com reported ) is being widely discussed in the German public sphere. Already in the middle of last week, in an article entitled "Facing a Changing of the Guard," a leading daily predicted that "most" observers assume that the "influence and significance of the United States (and Europe)" will "continue to dwindle." At the same time, many believe that China will "steadfastly [continue] its assent to the summit of global politics and economy." Over the weekend, under the headline, "The Changing of the Guards," one of the largest German news portals observed that "the USA has continued to regress in leadership" during the Corona crisis. "The pandemic could signal the dawning of the Chinese epoch." At first, it seemed for awhile "as if the Corona virus outbreak would set China years back," now it seems that "US President Donald Trump must explain to the world ... day in day out, why his country cannot get the plague under control." The portal then raises the question: "Is the world on the brink of a new duel of systems, a new cold war?"
US Intelligence Information
As a matter of fact, the United States is reacting to its looming loss of power with an intensification of attacks on Beijing. Last Thursday, US President Donald Trump claimed there are indications that the Covid-19 virus comes from a laboratory in Wuhan, China. For weeks, scientists have been resolutely rejecting this speculation. Yet, according to reports the US intelligence community was given the task of coming up with proof to increase pressure on Beijing. Trump has announced that he does not rule out new punitive tariff measures to be taken against the People's Republic of China. It has been previously reported that the cancellation of U.S. debts to China is among the measures being considered in Washington. Of course, this was officially denied. The Trump administration could also lift China’s sovereign immunity - an act of unprecedented hubris - which is seen as the prerequisite for allowing lawsuits seeking damages from Beijing for the Covid-19 pandemic, as voices in the USA and other western nations have for some time been demanding. Yesterday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo repeated the allegation that "enormous evidence" ties the virus to a Wuhan lab. Of course the U.S. government's lies concerning falsified intelligence information has been notorious for years. In this case, it is particularly noteworthy, because, until now, the US intelligence community has even officially contradicted the administrations allegations on the origin of the virus.
Divided German Economy
Pressure is being intensified on Berlin and the EU to aggressively take Washington's side in its attacks on Beijing. The transatlantic-oriented Springer press, for example, recently called for China to pay "damages" for the losses due to the pandemic in western countries. At the same time, it appears as if in the global power struggle the EU will suffer the greatest setbacks from the crisis. The EU's head of foreign policy Josep Borrell warned last week that according to calculations by the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, the GDP will fall by 8 percent in the United States, by 12 percent in Europe, whereas China will experience growth of 1.5 percent.  The dramatic crisis and the threatened global loss of status has plunged German industry into a dilemma. Even though, it has by far its largest investment location and its most important sales market in the United States, it does not see its current prospects for weathering the crisis in the USA, but rather in China, whose economy is already beginning again to run smoothly. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.) The German industry is deeply divided. Already last year a survey of top German company executives showed that, "if push comes to shove," only half of them, if forced to have to choose, would prefer cooperation with the United States over that with China. Around one-third, on the other hand, had responded that they were on the side of the People's Republic of China. China has become the German industry's most important trading partner and its third largest investment site, with the tendency rapidly rising.
"The Economic Trap"
In this situation, the transatlanticists are applying two levers. One of them uses Berlin and Brussels' interests in becoming independent global players, who, of course, need access to a strong independent industry. "There is no doubt that China is currently seeking to use the Covid crisis to its geopolitical advantage," writes NATO's former General Secretary, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, last week in an article in a leading German daily. Beijing is clearly using its economy for this purpose. China's strategy is "based on a clear advantage." "Long before the West," that country will have "surpassed the summit of this pandemic and regained efficiency." It will be able to "throw products onto our markets, to further subvert our still afflicted companies" or even make "strategic investments" - namely, take over strategically important companies in the crisis-ridden EU "at bargain basement prices." This must currently be prevented. It is "essential, that Europe changes course now - to prevent the West, like a sleepwalker, from stepping into the economic trap of a communist dictatorship."
The other lever consists of calling for loyalty to the transatlantic alliance, which - customary during the cold war - was overblown with feigned ("freedom," "democracy") values. It was in this context that Mathias Döpfner, CEO of the Axel Springer SE declared yesterday: "If a therapy against the virus is found, the debate over a shutdown and a relaxation has faded and the recession raises its ugly head, nothing less than the world order will have to be clarified." "More specifically" it is "the alliance question." "Where does Europe stand? On America's side or on China's?" An "as-well-as" is no longer possible; "The alliance question" is "ripe for decision." The USA has now "clearly decided for disengagement and increasing independence from China. "Europe" must follow suit. Döpfner admits that this will be "costly," after all, the German economy, alone, has "an annual trade volume with China of around €200 billion." But "a disengagement from the USA" would "hit us much harder, economically and in terms of security policy." The Corona crisis, with its economic upheavals, offers "a unique opportunity for correcting this aberration."
Please take note of our video column War against China.
 Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger: Vor der Wachablösung? Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 29.04.2020.
 Matthias Gebauer, Ralf Neukirch, René Pfister, Bernhard Zand: Die Wachablösung. spiegel.de 03.05.2020.
 Jeff Mason, Matt Spetalnick, Humeyra Pamuk: Trump threatens new tariffs on China in retaliation for coronavirus. uk.reuters.com 30.04.2020.
 Pompeo asserts 'enormous evidence' ties the virus to a Wuhan lab, a claim not backed yet by U.S. intelligence. nytimes.com 03.05.2020.
 See also Battle of Narratives.
 Josep Borrell: The post-coronavirus world is already here. ecfr.eu 30.04.2020.
 See also "Crises Shift Forces".
 Capital - F.A.Z. Eite-Panel. Pressekonferenz. Berlin, 21. November 2019. See also Vor der Zerreißprobe.
 Anders Fogh Rasmussen: Europa muss Chinas Angriff abwehren. sueddeutsche.de 29.04.2020.
 Mathias Döpfner: Wir müssen uns entscheiden. welt.de 03.05.2020.