What Does Beijing Want From Berlin?

China has announced that its head of state will hold a FILE – German foreign minister Heiko Maas adjusts his glasses during a news conference in Athens, Aug. 25, 2020.“The Himalayas and the Malacca Strait may seem a long way away,” FILE – A man looks at a newsstand with a copy of the day’s Global Times displayed on a basket in Beijing, China, April 5, 2016.Kefferpuetz described the Global Times article as an attempt to accentuate differences among Germany, the EU and the U.S. while “belittl[ing] the EU.” “By doing so, it misses the bigger picture,” he said. “Several years back, China was expanding its influence in Europe — buying up companies, establishing a variety of political platforms and engaging with EU member states bilaterally and regionally. Now, the tables are turning,” Kefferpuetz said. Europe, he said, is increasingly wary of Chinese influence, and “relationships are souring.” Meanwhile, European powers are moving closer to China’s immediate neighborhood, Kefferpuetz said in a written interview with VOA. He cited Britain’s plan to send an aircraft carrier to patrol in the South China Sea next year, Germany’s just-announced Indo-Pacific strategy and a similar strategy that France published last year. “By claiming that the EU is weak, and the transatlantic alliance is divided, the Global Times article just highlights how nervous China must be, given Europe’s push into the Indo-Pacific alongside the United States,” Kefferpuetz said. Robert Spalding, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, has served in senior defense and diplomacy positions in the U.S. government, including senior director for strategy at the National Security Council under U.S. President Donald Trump. He told VOA in a phone interview on Thursday that the Global Times article’s emphasis on the relative importance of the United States in the region contradicted previous Chinese assertions. “They’ve been saying we’re not important, that the United States has ceased being relevant, hence the need for China to take over,” he said with a laugh. He added that Beijing appeared to have lost its footing in managing the increasingly complex global relationships.  “They don’t know what they’re doing,” Spalding said.