new York At the presentation of the Henry Kissinger Prize in the Metropolitan Club in New York, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke of a “time of hardening” and gave a surprisingly clear warning of China’s new course. “China has changed,” he said. Particularly problematic is the “authoritarian policy that suppresses any deviation” but also China’s “hegemonic claims in the South Pacific region”.
Steinmeier quoted Chinese President Xi Jinping, who had proclaimed a new, menacing foreign and economic policy philosophy: “Make China independent of the world – and make the world dependent on China”. But those are “rules for a game that we don’t want to play – and we can’t,” said Steinmeier, “we have to react to that.”
At the same time, the German head of state made it clear that this does not mean an “end of exchange and dialogue” with Beijing. Because of its size alone, China will remain a factor in the global economy. It is a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. “We also need China in the fight against climate change,” emphasized Steinmeier. For these reasons, it is right that US President Joe Biden and Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) sought dialogue with the Chinese President.
But it is also true: “We have to protect ourselves – we have to prevent ourselves from being politically and economically vulnerable.” Dependencies must be reduced, both from Chinese supplies and from Chinese raw materials. “We need to make our economies resilient.”
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It’s not about protectionism, deglobalization or “naive efforts towards self-sufficiency,” said the Federal President. Rather, one must expand one’s own network with the world and spread the opportunities and economic risks across many countries.
Steinmeier recalled Kissinger’s secret trip to Beijing in July 1971, which marked the beginning of China’s opening to the West, especially to the USA. As he later wrote in his book “On China”, Kissinger was not concerned with friendship, “but with something much more pragmatic: enabling coexistence,” said the Federal President.
“Making this coexistence possible, decisively promoting the opening of China,” is one of Kissinger’s great achievements. But unfortunately he had to realize that China had changed since then.
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Steinmeier came to New York to accept the Henry Kissinger Prize, which is awarded by the American Academy in Berlin. The eulogy was given by former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Steinmeier and she were foreign ministers at the same time between 2005 and 2009.
Steinmeier speaks of the failure of decades of efforts
In his speech he also addressed the recent developments in the war in Ukraine. He did not go into his own Russia policy in the past. But he spoke of a “failure of decades of political efforts, including my own, to prevent precisely this war.” The world is different today.
For a long time, war in Europe was unimaginable. But the recent series of Russian attacks on civilian targets in Ukraine and the rocket explosion in Poland show how real the war is. The war also showed: “There is no guarantee that economic exchange will lead to political rapprochement.”
In his imperial obsession, the Russian president has broken international law, challenged borders, committed land grabs. Frank Walter Steinmeier
“In his imperial obsession, the Russian president broke international law, challenged borders, committed land grabs,” Steinmeier said. It is not yet known definitively what the bullet that landed in Poland was about. “But none of this would have happened if Russia hadn’t waged this ruthless war.” Steinmeier assured that Germany would help Ukraine “for as long as it takes” and warned that an enforced sham peace would “only increase Putin’s hunger.”
Henry Kissinger himself was connected to the award ceremony via video. He expressed the hope that Russia will again become part of the international community in the future. “Even after the Second World War, nobody thought it possible that the aggressor Germany” would develop into such a reliable ally, said Kissinger in the laudatory speech for the award that was named after Steinmeier.
Previously, this prize was awarded to Helmut Schmidt, Helmut Kohl, Angela Merkel, Richard von Weizsäcker, Wolfgang Schäuble and George HW Bush. Kissinger, who turns 100 in May, actually wanted to attend the award ceremony. On medical advice, however, he canceled at short notice and only sent a video message.
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