German Pivot

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There’s a tendency to focus only on the US-China relationship these days (now referred to as “the G2”), and forget all others, but in this article in The Times, Germans turning to Beijing for friendship as relations with US cool, there seems to be a shift taking place in Germany which “suggests the public mood has tilted significantly over the past 12 months”. According to a recent poll “only one in ten respondents identified the US as Germany’s principal ally, half as many as this time last year” and “36% said it was more important for Germany to have “warm relations” with China than with the US”. 

These numbers have shifted quite dramatically over the past 12 months, suggesting that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a big impact. According to the article, “73% thought worse of the US as a result of the pandemic, while 5% had been impressed. By contrast 36% said their opinion of China had deteriorated but 25% said it had improved. In terms of public opinion, the People’s Republic appears to be on the cusp of filling the vacuum resulting from waning US popularity”

Worryingly for countries who appear too close to Washington and will be competing with Germany to re-build post-Covid relationships in China, “this ambivalence has been reflected in German foreign policy. Angela Merkel has refrained from raising China’s human rights record in public and her government has allowed Huawei, the telecoms company closely linked to Beijing, to build elements of Germany’s new high-speed 5G mobile network, to American displeasure”. 

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