LONDON – The German government is considering sending a naval frigate to Japan, the Nikkei has learned. The ship will set sail from Germany earlier this summer, a rare move for Berlin to send naval vessels to East Asia.
Last fall, the German government agreed new Indo-Pacific guidelines at cabinet meetings. It is now considering a detailed policy based on these guidelines, which takes a tougher approach to China.
The German parliamentary secretary of state at the Federal Defense Ministry, Thomas Silberhorn, told the Nikkei: “We look forward to sailing this summer. We haven’t decided on the details yet, but we see Japan” as a possible port of call, adding, “We want to deepen our relationship with partners. we’re in a democracy camp. ” He stressed that the plan was “aimed at no one,” but it seemed clear that Berlin had a Chinese expansionist policy.
According to sources in the German government and the ruling party, the frigate with a port of origin in northern Germany will stay in the Indo-Pacific region for the time being, making stops in Japan, Australia, South Korea and other countries. The frigate is expected to receive supplies and participate in joint exercises in several French regions of the region. There are also plans to sail in the South China Sea.
Germany has been wary of deploying troops outside of Europe – Asia is traditionally not a region of interest. But Berlin will aim to demonstrate its willingness to maintain world order given growing interest in East Asian security.
While European countries rely on China for trade and investment, they depend on China started to move away themselves in political terms. The delivery of the German Navy to Asia will mean a major shift in European policy towards Asia.
Europe is looking for political and economic separation in its policies towards China, maintaining distance in politics and getting along well in the economy.
However, this approach has limitations.
In the past, a German naval vessel made port calls in Japan in 2002 during a training voyage, but tensions are now much higher in East Asian waters, and Europe is increasingly worrying North Korea and China.
“We must not let them rely on force to enforce their own orders,” said Silberhorn. Another source in Germany’s ruling party said: “We will show solidarity with our democratic partners. Australia and Japan have asked us to send troops, and we will comply with their requests.”
In Europe, Britain and France, which have territories in the Indo-Pacific region, are also increasing their involvement in Asian security.
Britain will deploy an aircraft carrier, the HMS Queen Elizabeth, to the Pacific. A British Navy spokesman told the Nikkei in a written statement that “an aircraft carrier is expected to depart [sometime between April and June.]”This will be a symbolic step in European policy towards Asia as the region quickly becomes wary of China.
France has 8,000 troops on Reunion Island as well as other islands in the Indo-Pacific region – Paris is becoming increasingly aware of Chinese expansionism in the region.
Silberhorn said Europe needed to be more responsible for its own security and less dependent on the US military.
On the other hand, Europe avoids provoking China. Germany considers naval shipping aimed at strengthening cooperation with democratic countries in Asia, not as a military operation requiring parliamentary consideration.
While strengthening their hardline stance towards China on security issues, European countries seek a balanced approach towards the country, with economic affairs in mind. However, there are many cases where economic and security issues are closely linked, and it is not clear whether political and economic separation can be achieved.
An EU diplomat told the Nikkei that European countries “have a lot of diplomatic experience with Russia, but we lack this with Asia. We need more experience, and adjust it over time.”