In the last week of March, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi was on a whirlwind tour in South Asia, where the relations of several countries with Beijing, and thus the geopolitical constellations, seem to be shifting. After talks in Pakistan, where a serious political crisis is darkening the future of a Belt & Road flagship, the China Pakistan Economic Corridor CPEC, and a fly-by in Kabul, which has already been interpreted as a first step towards recognising the Taliban government, he made a visit to Nepal after a sensational detour into India.
Global geopolitics, especially the conflict between China and the USA, plays a central role in the future of the war against Ukraine: For many observers, Beijing could play a key role in a negotiated solution. The attempt to square the circle of distancing itself from Putin’s war, but not letting Russia go under could be helpful. However, a further intensification of the confrontation with the USA in Asia would stand in the way here.
The label for the multilateral copy of China’s New Silk Roads recently announced at the G7 summit by U.S. President Biden is gruesome: Build Back Better World, or B3W. As a “values-driven, high-standard, and transparent infrastructure partnership” it is to compete with China’s infrastructure activities. So far, however, B3W is merely an anaemic PR product.
It may sound like a matter of routine: The German frigate ‘Bayern’ is about to set sail and spend several months cruising in the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific. The Defense Ministry merely wants to see this just as a “sign” to fly the flag where Germany’s “values and interests are affected”. However, behind this there is a fundamental paradigm shift.
The deployment of the frigate ‚Bayern’ to a cruise in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific in summer this year is intended to lend substance to the “Guidelines on the Indo-Pacific” adopted by the German government last September and to the pronouncements of Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Minister of Defense, that it “will expand its commitment to security policy to the Indo-Pacific”.
„China and Pakistan fall out over Belt and Road frameworks,” trumpeted the Japanese business publication Nikkei Asia on January 19. There is no secret about the exasperation, even alarm, regarding what President Xi Jinping once called “brotherly” Sino-Pakistani cooperation in general and the China Pakistan Economic Corridor project in particular. This probably raised some hopeful expectations in New Delhi.