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Russia’s And China’s Strategic Influence In Germany

October 26th, 2021 12:20

The Roy­al Unit­ed Ser­vices Insti­tute (RUSI), a UK think tank, pub­lished a research paper last year com­par­ing Russ­ian and Chi­nese strate­gic influ­ence and inter­fer­ence in Ger­many, argu­ing that Russia’s activ­i­ties are large­ly polit­i­cal, attempt­ing to under­mine pub­lic con­fi­dence in demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions. China’s activ­i­ties, on the oth­er hand, have been focused main­ly on eco­nom­ic assets. Accord­ing to the RUSI:

July 2020 Ger­many is on the front­line of Russ­ian and Chi­nese hybrid actions of inter­fer­ence and influ­ence in Europe. The tac­tics used by Chi­na and Rus­sia vary. Russia’s activ­i­ties are large­ly polit­i­cal, attempt­ing to under­mine pub­lic con­fi­dence in demo­c­ra­t­ic insti­tu­tions. China’s have been focused main­ly on eco­nom­ic assets. There are a num­ber of syn­er­gies, how­ev­er. This includes their ten­den­cy to go over the head of the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to talk direct­ly to the Län­der. Pol­i­cy­mak­ers agree that one of the most urgent tasks fac­ing the soon-to-be-cho­sen chan­cel­lor can­di­date to replace Angela Merkel will be a reassess­ment of Germany’s vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty towards Rus­sia and Chi­na. Merkel has tak­en a con­sis­tent­ly strong posi­tion towards Rus­sia since the annex­a­tion of Crimea and inter­ven­tion in Ukraine, push­ing sanc­tions through the EU. This is in spite of the fact that Ger­many has an emo­tion­al, cul­tur­al and his­tor­i­cal prox­im­i­ty to Rus­sia that oth­er coun­tries strug­gle to appre­ci­ate. Germany’s export-based econ­o­my has become heav­i­ly depen­dent on Chi­na. This is now being reap­praised by many in busi­ness and pol­i­tics, although some lead­ers of multi­na­tion­als con­tin­ue to be extreme­ly wary of crit­i­cis­ing China’s actions. A num­ber of Chi­nese takeovers, suc­cess­ful or resist­ed, of medi­um-sized Mit­tel­stand com­pa­nies, the engine room of the Ger­man econ­o­my, has led to a shift in posi­tion and in per­ceiv­ing Chi­na as a strate­gic com­peti­tor. The poor rela­tions between Don­ald Trump and Merkel have exac­er­bat­ed Germany’s sense of vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty to poten­tial dan­gers from Chi­na and Rus­sia. Those rela­tions have led to an increased sense of moral equiv­a­lence among Ger­mans towards Rus­sia and the US, accord­ing to polls. This is par­tic­u­lar­ly appar­ent in the Län­der of the for­mer GDR, where region­al lead­ers of all par­ties have been push­ing for a relax­ation or end­ing of EU sanc­tions against Rus­sia. Russia’s alleged cyber attack on the Bun­destag in 2015 and sub­se­quent attempts to infil­trate the polit­i­cal sys­tem, tech­no­log­i­cal­ly and through dis­in­for­ma­tion, have led to a hard­en­ing of the Ger­man government’s posi­tion. Rus­sia has giv­en strong sup­port to the far-right Alter­na­tive für Deutsch­land and left-wing Die Linke par­ties. The Green par­ty is one of the strongest voic­es advo­cat­ing a hard line against Rus­sia. Its role will be impor­tant if it is part of the next rul­ing coalition.

Go here to read the full paper.

We have pre­vi­ous­ly report­ed on sim­i­lar RUSI papers exam­in­ing Russia’s and China’s influ­ence oper­a­tions in Ser­bia and Aus­tria.