Near-peer competition, Large Scale Combat Operations, war for global hegemony: America First hits China Above! The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) military and economic rise poses a nascent threat to US global supremacy. But why now?
It is over. Donald Trump has lost. After four years of chaos, the self-declared saviour of America failed to convince the voters in key states such as Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania to grant him another term. Their choice will have a significant impact on German-American relations. President-elect Joe Biden campaigned on nothing less than restoring the soul of the American nation.The new administration faces a raging pandemic and a troubled economy, much like the rest of the world. Nevertheless, Biden’s foreign policy will be substantially different from Trump’s. After years of troubled relations with one of America’s most important allies, Biden will have to try to re-engage with Germany. Berlin ought to be prepared.
In the past few months, the European Union (EU) has pursued a noticeable transition in its China policy, suggesting that Europe is taking an increasingly critical stance on China. In March 2019, a ten-point plan published by the European Commission explicitly described China as “an economic competitor in pursuit of technological leadership and a systemic rival promoting alternative models of governance”. Calling China a “strategic competitor” reflects the EU’s growing concerns of rising competition with China. Moreover, it institutionalizes the reoccurring criticism over the lack of reciprocity of market access for European companies in China. The EU has also raised security concerns over foreign direct investment (FDI) from Chinese state-owned enterprises and technology companies.
The Atlantic Community is still needed today – but less as a geographical concept. The (trans)atlantic community in the postwar period has always been a community of values, and this aspect is now more important than ever before. Given the rise of authoritarian models of politics, economy and society, exemplified not least by Russia and China and their increasing challenges to the rules-based liberal international order, those who are in a position to defend and strengthen the values and order need to cooperate with each other more. This necessitates the countries in the Atlantic community to cooperate with other like-minded countries, such as Japan, India and Australia, because this enormous job cannot be done solely by the countries of the Atlantic community in the geographical sense of the term.
India’s history with the transatlantic alliance has, for much of its history, been problematic. On one hand, for Indian society at large, the values and lifestyle of the US-Europe compact were aspirational, both in terms of looking up to the West, from an academic standpoint, as an anthropological end goal, as well as the West being a prime destination for economic migration. Politically however, there was a sharp contrast. The rapid industrialisation of agrarian states that socialism seemed to achieve, was seen as desirable in what was and remains a desperately poor country. Being the only democracy that refused to tow a moral line with regards to personal freedoms put India at odds with the US-Europe grouping.