Beijing instead of Moscow: New resource dependencies

In doing so, we are becoming increasingly dependent on raw material supplies from China. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen put the problem in a nutshell: “We import lithium for electric cars, platinum for hydrogen production, silicon for solar modules. 98 percent of the rare earths we need come from a single supplier – China. And that is not sustainable.”

The more we rely on “liberation energy”, as Finance Minister Christian Lindner has recently called wind and solar power, the more we will depend on Beijing’s mercy in the future. Whether windmill, photovoltaic system or electric car battery – without raw materials such as cobalt, copper, lithium and rare earths it is not possible. “Dependence on many mineral raw materials from China is already greater than that on oil and natural gas from Russia,” says Matthias Wachter, head of the International Cooperation, Security, Raw Materials and Space Department at the Federation of German Industries.

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The political scientist Jakob Kullik now demands in a report for the Federal Academy for Security Policy: Just as legal requirements for stockpiling and a national crisis reserve for oil were passed after the oil crisis in 1973, stockpiles should also be set up for certain critical raw materials.

By the way: Beelzebub is a demon that is often depicted as a giant fly and against which the original devil with his goat’s feet looks downright comical.

Robert Habeck is currently grappling with other kinds of raw material demons. The aim is to somehow get the German gas storage tanks full by autumn despite the reduced gas supplies from Russia and to get through the coming winter without bottlenecks. The fact that a Green Economics Minister of all people has to announce that he will switch off comparatively climate-friendly gas-fired power plants to achieve this goal and reactivate coal piles that are notorious for producing CO2: That is a bitter irony.

This step, which Habeck announced on Sunday, is still correct, argues Handelsblatt energy expert Klaus Stratmann. And if you don’t know what a merit order effect is and what it has to do with high energy prices: after reading the commentary you will be smarter – I promise.

Historical-political sensitivity is evidently not one of the hiring requirements for armaments managers. This can be seen, for example, in the fact that the Rheinmetall company has given its new tank prototype the name “Panther”. The original Panther was a tank that Hitler Germany developed specifically for the war of annihilation against the Soviet Union.

So far, the new Panther has primarily destroyed porcelain. Since Rheinmetall surprisingly presented it a few days ago, the harmony in the Franco-German armaments cooperation, at least to the outside world, is gone. Actually, a German-French consortium was supposed to jointly develop a new tank for the armies of both countries. A spokesman for the joint venture KNDS commissioned to do this now scoffs at the Panther: “This funny car can only be explained by Rheinmetall itself.”

There are also disputes over many other Franco-German projects: from the planned joint air defense system and a reconnaissance aircraft for the Navy to the overdue modernization of the Tiger attack helicopter. In addition, my colleague Martin Murphy analyses, there is a political change of heart in Berlin: There they prefer to buy ready-made weapons from US production in order to whip the Bundeswehr into shape quickly.

French President Emmanuel Macron, on the other hand, continues to rely on European in-house developments. However, these Franco-German weapon systems prove their enormous penetrating power above all when used against their own time and budget plans. They are broken through reliably and sustainably.

Emmanuel Macron: Until the very end, it was unclear whether his “Ensemble” alliance would achieve an absolute majority.

There is also the question of how capable Macron will be in the future. On Sunday evening it became apparent that the President would lose his majority in the National Assembly, the decisive chamber of the French Parliament. According to the preliminary official result, Macron’s “Ensemble” alliance has 244 seats in the new National Assembly, making it the strongest force. However, 289 seats would be required for an absolute majority. The left-wing alliance Nupes around Jean-Luc Mélenchon can hope for 127 seats, the extreme right around Marine Le Pen for 89.

The Conservatives have dropped to 74 seats but could become the kingmaker. If the result is confirmed, France faces a tricky government formation. There the president appoints the prime minister and thus the government. However, it can be overthrown by the National Assembly with a vote of no confidence and is therefore dependent on a majority in Parliament.

And then there is Nejib Belhedi. The 69-year-old retired Tunisian army officer has swum across the Mediterranean Sea. Not like many of his compatriots in the main flight direction from Africa to Italy. But on the opposite way from the southern Italian island of Pantelleria to Hammamet in Tunisia. 155 kilometers in a good 64 hours – with an artificial hip. Belhedi has been a passionate long-distance swimmer for many years. He also has a political message in common with his latest adventure: he wants to motivate his compatriots to try their luck in Tunisia and not in Europe.

I wish you much perseverance for the day ahead.

Best regards

Christian Rickens

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