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Berlin’s new strategy aims to counter China’s influence in West Balkans: Der Spiegel

The new German China strategy is focusing on limiting China’s influence in the West Balkan region, the weekly news magazine Der Spiegel reported Wednesday.

According to a German Foreign Ministry draft on the future strategy towards China which was leaked to Der Spiegel, particular attention would be paid to Beijing’s role in the Western Balkans.

There, China has “in some cases significantly expanded its influence,” for example with “debt-financed infrastructure projects” and the development of telecommunications infrastructure, the draft was quoted as saying.

Germany and the European Union would have to do something to counter this move by Beijing.

“We will intensify cooperation with the Western Balkans and push ahead with EU accession processes,” it added.

Based on the secret 59-page document, the Western Balkans are to become a focus of the so-called “Global Gateway” projects — an investment initiative by the EU that is intended to be an alternative to China’s Silk Road Initiative for third countries. Up to €300 billion ($311.7 billion) in investments are to be mobilized for infrastructure projects by 2027.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has repeatedly vowed to put the EU enlargement process back on track, vowing to make the Western Balkans’ future a foreign policy priority for his government.

“The stability and prosperity of your region cannot be detached from the stability and prosperity of Europe as a whole,” Scholz was quoted saying.

Meanwhile, the German Foreign Ministry has adopted a very critical position on Beijing’s policies towards Russia.

The Russian-Chinese declaration of February of this year is based on “a stance which is not compatible with the principles of the sovereign equality of all states of the UN Charter,” the document said.

It added that future cooperation between Germany and the EU with China depended on the way Beijing shapes its relationship with Russia.

“China and Russia are getting closer and closer,” the paper said, adding that in the war against Ukraine, China has “actually” sided with Russia.

On Nov. 2, Scholz announced a change of course towards China, only hours before his first-ever visit to Beijing since taking office a year ago.

In an article for the Frankfurt-based Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, he said the recent outcome of the Chinese Communist Party Congress had convinced him that a change of policy toward China was necessary.

Source : AA.Com