The Germans Are Coming
For the first time in 20 years, the Germans are coming back to Asia in an unprecedented move that is largely viewed as a counter to China’s rising influence and military might in the region.
Germany will be sending the Bayern, one of the most powerful warships in its armada. The frigate, which is crewed by at least 200 navy men, set sail for the Pacific on August 2, where it will add its weight to the growing Western alliance seeking to counter China’s expansion in the region.
During its six-month deployment to the Indo-Pacific region, the Bayern will pass the South China Sea, which is considered Asia’s most dangerous flashpoint. The warship will enter Singapore, South Korea, and Australia, and will take part in freedom of navigation exercises or FONOPS. It will also make stops in Djibouti, Karachi, Diego Garcia, Perth, Guam, Tokyo, and Shanghai.
The deployment signals German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s aspirations to position Germany as a relevant actor in geopolitics, particularly on issues concerning the South China Sea.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel
According to analysts, Germany believes China will be an adversary in the security arena, but an inevitable ally in other issues such as climate change.
"The Indo-Pacific is where the shape of the international order of the future will be decided. We want to help shape it and take responsibility for the rules-based international order," Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Sunday.
Germany, the Most Powerful Country in the E.U.
Germany is one of the most powerful allies of the U.S. According to Global Firepower, Germany is the fourth most powerful military in Europe, after France, the U.K., and Italy.
But its economy eclipses most advanced economies. Germany is one of the most powerful economies in the world and is the E.U.’s leading economy. Chancellor Merkel is largely viewed as the most potent European leader who steered the E.U. away from the European Sovereign Debt Crisis in 2012.
In 2020, Berlin published a position paper in which its foreign policy seems to have shifted away from China and toward Southeast Asia.
But Germany would likely balance its dealings with China, a major trading partner. Volkswagen, a flagship car manufacturer of Germany, has factories in China’s Xinjiang province.