Can the US function without an enemy?
China versus USA : The ghost of the Cold War is looming
A ghost looms in Europe: the ghost of the Cold War. Does he come back like a revenant who can't be killed?
Europe hoped to have conquered the evil spirit with the freedom movements against communism. Russia today lacks the strength to face an existential threat such as the one once posed by the Soviet Union.
The conflicts are increasing - even data protection in Europe is in question
But the conflict with China is growing frighteningly and has spread to so many areas that it is not an exaggeration to speak of the global contradictions of the system.
It is about the democracy guaranteed by international treaties in Hong Kong, about human rights in China's majority population, such as those of the minorities from the Muslim Uyghurs to the Tibetans, about free shipping routes and airspace in Asia, about intellectual property, market access and fair trade rules Responsible use of resources in the Third World, for example in Africa, to protect the climate - and to ensure reliable data protection here in Europe, if government-affiliated giants like Huawei are involved in 5G networks.
The word about the new Cold War has its pitfalls because it suggests a repetition of history that does not exist. At the same time, it is justified because of the dimension of the challenge.
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China is not threatening Europe militarily like the well-armed Warsaw Pact used to do. There is also no risky lack of conversation between West and East, which could lead to miscalculations, as in the 1950s. China is part of the international institutions and dialogue forums, plays an important role in the G20, and conducts a lively exchange of goods with America and Europe.
China has caught up with the West. And partly outdated
At the same time, however, China has economic development potential that the Soviet Union lacked. When it became clear that the Eastern Bloc could neither economically nor technically keep up with the West in the long run, they consoled themselves with the slogan “overtaking without overtaking”. That did not work.
China has caught up with America and Europe in many areas and has overtaken them in some future technologies such as 5G and artificial intelligence. Its economic power today is similar to that of the EU or the USA.
The efficiency of its system - from developing country to superpower in a few decades - and diverse cooperation offers to poorer countries to expand infrastructure or the “New Silk Road” make China an attractive partner. And an alternative to the EU and the USA.
The geostrategic world map is rearranged. Countries like Iran, which are in conflict with the West, orient themselves towards Beijing, sell their resources there like Iran sells oil and receive foreign exchange and other scarce goods in return.
Some EU states such as Greece and Hungary have made themselves risky dependent on Beijing. Overall, of course, Europe and America have more "soft power". China's handling of Corona is damaging its image. And heavyweights like India, which were previously wooed as “non-aligned”, have little to do with China.
The first attempt at integration failed
What are Germany's and Europe's interests in this situation? Committing China to upholding the free world order. The first attempt - change through trade, rapprochement and integration - did not achieve that.
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China speaks of multilateralism and the value of international agreements in order to positively break away from Trump's unilateralism and its withdrawal from treaties. But in Hong Kong, China is breaking the treaty on its autonomy.
Beijing is committed to climate protection, but is itself the biggest polluter, building thousands of coal-fired power plants and does not want to reduce its emissions anytime soon. It uses access to western markets, but does not grant it to western companies.
In its own way, the People's Republic is a greater threat to the free world order than the Soviet Union was.
That is why Europe must face it with the same determination as the USSR. With one difference: not as a military enemy, but as a systemic rival who demands compliance with the treaty and does not divulge its values.
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