In last Wednesday's News and Views from the Nefarium I offered some speculation about German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel's "no US nuclear weapons on German soil" statement. It seems that Herr Gabriel has been a busy man, particularly where China is concerned. Only last year, for example, this article appeared in Politico:
Sigmar Gabriel’s mission to halt China’s investment spree
Then the problem was, it seems, that while China was snapping up German and other European companies on the cheap, German investors were unable to do the same in China:
As Chinese acquisitions in Europe skyrocket, anger in Germany is growing over Chinese companies pushing into the market, some of them backed by governmental programs, at a time when German investors have limited market access in China.
“It’s not on that Germany sacrifices its companies on the altar of free markets, while at the same time our own companies have huge problems investing in China,” said Gabriel, who is also German economy minister, during a heated Q&A following a speech in Berlin last week.
In a piece published in Die Welt, the Social Democrat launched another broadside against China’s trade practices. “If you want to invest in other parts of the world, you can’t block those countries from investing in your own,” he wrote.
But there's more on this looming split between Germany and China, as this more recent article shared by Mr. B. demonstrates:
China questions German minister's 'one Europe' comments
The problem, as Herr Gabriel sees it, is that China is attempting to divide Europe:
BEIJING (AP) — China expressed dismay Thursday after Germany's foreign minister said Beijing should not "attempt to divide us" following complaints China uses its status as an investor to influence European Union decisions.
The comment by Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel comes amid rising European complaints about Chinese market access, steel and other issues. Germany is increasingly vocal in pushing Beijing to resolve complaints it is violating its market-opening pledges.
"We are shocked by Mr. Gabriel's remarks," said a foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, at a regular news briefing.
"We hope that he can clarify that what he means by 'one Europe,' and whether there is a consensus on 'one Europe' among EU members," said Hua. "We hope and believe his remark about China's attempt to split Europe does not represent most European people's thinking."
During a visit to Paris on Wednesday, Gabriel called for a common European stance on China and said Beijing "should have a 'one Europe' policy that doesn't attempt to divide us."
The real clue as to what is going on is a statement made at the very end of the article:
European officials also complain Beijing has tried to blunt a common European response on trade disputes by offering concessions to individual governments.
And there you have it: "Europe" or the European "project" may be a "real deal" to the bureaucrats and technocrats in Brussels, Paris, and Berlin, but the reality is Europe is still composed of (1) nation states, which with China must deal officially, and (2) Germany, like it or not, is in the driver's seat of the "European project," a fact evidenced by the fact that it is Herr Gabriel complaining about China's "European policy", and not, for example, the French Foreign Minister (who is, incidentally, Jean-Yves Le Drian). In response to this, China's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, as the article points out, rightly observes and questions "whether there is a consensus on 'one Europe' among EU members."
The answer is, of course, no there isn't. This does not dismiss Herr Gabriel's complaint, but merely highlights the problem. Lacking sovereign diplomatic status, with whom is China to deal? Answer: the still sovereign nations of Europe. Is China to be faulted? Certainly it is taking advantage of the situation, but that isn't China's problem, it's Europe's, and, more particularly, Germany's. If "Europe" lacks "consensus" on such matters, the blame must be laid squarely at the feet of Frau Merkel and her policies, particularly with respect to other EU members (Greece for example, or, for that matter, Italy or Spain) and her driving the immigration crisis on the rest of Europe, to the cost of growing domestic dissent in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, and EU members Poland and Hungary, which have flatly refused the dictats from Brussels (read, Berlin).
So where's the high octane speculation? As I indicated and alluded in last Wednesday's News and Views, Herr Gabriel's recent statements on removal of US nukes from German soil are an indicator that German and hence European policy are about to shift in the wake of the upcoming German federal elections. What Herr Gabriel may be signaling to the Chinese, and the rest of the world, is therefore that there may be a shift in German and European policy vis-a-vis China after the elections occur. This means Germany will press forward with European military integration to offset NATO, with the goal of eventually rendering the organization obsolete, and will begin to press for real "free markets" in China.
And if China refuses, there's always that big market to the east called Russia...
...and that will put The Ukraine back on the table, and this time around, Germany, and hence Europe, may not be so willing to sing from Washington's hymnal...
Speculation? To be sure, but the bottom line is we can expect some slow, but very deliberate policy changes coming out of Berlin in the next few months and years.
See you on the flip side....