Berlin/Beijing: Former German intelligence chief Gerhard Schindler warned that ‘China is making malicious moves for expanding its influence in Europe, Asia and Africa. Currently, China is very close to achieving dominance over the entire world. The European nations must recognise the threat posed by China at the right time.’ A few days ago, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had advised that German companies needed to step out of China. Also, a senior German official had cautioned that Europe’s support to the US was crucial in the Cold War against China.
The tensions between Europe and China are rising consistently regarding the Coronavirus pandemic and other issues, over which the EU has repeatedly lambasted China. However, China continues with its expansionist activities and adamant stance. The country is trying to create a divide within the EU and add pressure over the bloc by leveraging trade interests. China has accused the European leaders and officials, who have been critical of the country, of harbouring cold war-era and colonial mindset. Incidents have come to light where the European officials and companies operating in China have been threatened. Furthermore, China was also accused of trying to control European communication systems through 5G technology.
On the sidelines of recent events, top leaders and officials of the European nations for the past few months have been taking a bold stance against China. The former German leader’s warning appears a part of the same sentiment. At the time, Schindler also highlighted the threat from Chinese companies to the 5G sector. The former intelligence chief cautioned against Chinese activities as he said, ‘Huawei can develop ways to steal information from the 5G networks. We won’t even be able to tell what they were doing exactly. There may come a time when Germany could be in the midst of a crisis, and Chinese firms may threaten us by taking out our entire system. Beware that Germany may be forced to make a decision by being pressurised in such a manner’.
Schindler also asserted that a ban on Huawei might be a necessary step for reducing the dependence of the German government on China. He candidly suggested it was not possible to consider all aspects from a trade perspective. As he raised the issue of China’s growing dominance, the former intelligence chief stressed that ignoring the country’s aggressive activities in the South China Sea was not an option. Schindler has worked as the German intelligence chief from 2011 to 2016. During this time, German Chancellor Angela Merkel strengthened ties with China and led efforts for expanding trade with the country. Given Schindler’s position as the intelligence chief during this period, his warning assumes much significance.
In the past few months, Germany has frequently targeted China over issues ranging from Hong Kong, Uyghurs as even trade. Last month, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas had openly lashed out at China over Taiwan issue during a press conference. Germany had also announced an independent policy for the Indo-Pacific after expressing resentment over Chinese activities a few days ago. Germany is a leading European nation and presently has also assumed the rotating presidency of the EU. The firm stance of the German leaders and officials against China is thereby noteworthy. A possible blow from Europe at a time when its relations with the US, India and Australia are already tensed, may result in China’s ambitions being foiled ultimately.