Berlin is reported to be undecided in whether to side with US President Donald Trump for his “freedom of navigation” drills that also feature the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand and other allies. The EU power state is reported to be reluctant to stand up to China due to Germany’s coloured past of two world wards and decades of political division. A source in Berlin told the South China Morning Post: “Officials within the federal foreign ministry are split.”
Walter Ladwig, of the department of war studies at King’s College London, said Angela Merkel’s apathy in getting involved comes from what the country – and the EU – could lose if they did.
He said: “The South China Sea is an important international waterway, and Germany is a major trading power.
“It is entirely sensible that it would want to do its part to help ensure the freedom of navigation in international waters allowed under international law is respected.”
In October, German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen was careful to not mention the South China Sea directly when she visited Beijing.
In a speech to the PLA National Defence University, run by the People’s Liberation Army, she appeared to make reference to the issue, though failed to elaborate on what she meant.
She said simply: “Shipping lanes should remain free and not become the object of power projections.”
The waters are a massive concern or the West due to the rapid militarisation of the waters by China.
Recently, Beijing was seen attaching missiles to reefs in a bid to bulk up its arsenal of weaponry in a chillingly similar scenario to China’s Russian ally.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has used a similar tactic with the Arctic, claiming the icy land through increased militarisation.
The news comes after Australia stepped up its pressure on regional rivals China with an ambitious plan to fund millions of dollars worth of infrastructure projects throughout the Pacific amid soaring tensions in the South China Sea.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said last year that Australia would create a development fund which would offer countries in the region up to $3billion – approximately £1.6billion – in cheap loans and grants.
Sources suggest that it will be operational by the end of next month, with a view to approving a plethora of loans immediately. The move is seen by experts as a way of countering Chinese influence in the area.