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Germany is dodging a clear political signal in the Indo-Pacific. The frigate Bayern, to be deployed in the Indo-Pacific, will not be present in the Taiwan Straits. It is there, however, that China's free seafaring is most endangered.

In an interview with the editorial network Germany (April 3, 2021), Federal Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer explicitly advocated compliance with free trade routes: "We are not only talking about the freedom of sea routes, which is endangered by China, but we are also ready to do something to do for it.” Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer continues: “I want us not just to make nice words, but to actually do something.”set.

On March 30, 2021, the then State Secretary Dr. Peter Tauber on a question from MP Ulrich Lechte (FDP): "A journey through the Strait of Taiwan is not planned as part of the Indo-Pacific deployment 2021 of the frigate Bayern."

The federal government had already resolved early on not to upset Beijing. After what has emerged about the course of the telephone conversation between Chinese President Xi and German Chancellor Merkel on April 7, this comes as no surprise. The Middle Kingdom ties economic cooperation to good political behavior. Berlin fits into the line of the EU, which oscillates between inclusivity, cooperation and well-dosed criticism. At the same time, Brussels seeks proximity to like-minded partners such as Japan and Australia. Relations between these two countries and China have been sour for some time. Is the EU course compatible with US policy towards China?

Übungen chinesischer Trägergruppen in der Nähe von Taiwan sollen, so die chinesischen Marine am 5. April 2021, zur Gewohnheit werden. Hier ist Aufmerksamkeit nötig, zumal Peking die Anwendung von Gewalt nicht ausschließt.

The Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning on April 3, 2021 near Okinawa. Photo by the Japanese Ministry of Defense.

With its strategic focus on containing China, the Biden administration is showing less restraint than the EU. Washington is trying to hit Beijing's nerve, maritime safety, wherever it can. The US Navy destroyer USS "John McCain" (DDG-56) was making a "routine transit," according to the US Navy, through the Taiwan Strait these days. The passage of the USS "John McCain" was the fourth by a US Navy ship since President Joe Biden took office.

In order to counter China's military and trade policy expansion with alliances, US President Biden held the first talks with the heads of state and government of Australia, India and Japan in March as part of the "Quadrilateral Security Dialogue", also known as "Quad". the four nations struggling to balance themselves against China's growing military and economic might. It was Joe Biden's first participation in a summit meeting since he took office - not his participation in the EU summit.

Among European nations, France, with 7,000 troops stationed in the Indo-Pacific, is one of the countries in the EU that attaches strategic importance to Indo-Pacific security. Post-Brexit, France is the only EU country to fly the flag with passages in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait, defying Beijing. It got bizarre in 2019, when the French frigate Vendémiaire's invitation to participate in the naval parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the Chinese Navy was withdrawn after it sailed through the Taiwan Strait.(ESUT reported). France is also present in other sea regions of the Indo-Pacific. In the Bay of Bengal, France, along with the US, Japan, India and Australia, conducted the joint naval exercise La Pérous 2021 from April 5-7.

The British carrier group around the "HMS Queen Elizabeth" is expected in the Indo-Pacific in the course of the year. The Dutch frigate "Evertsen" will belong to the association.

Hans Uwe Mergener