On Thursday, the German parliament approved by a large majority a bill calling for heavy weapons to be sent to Ukraine – a bill that would also impose sanctions on China if Beijing decides to help Russia during its occupation of Ukraine.
586 MPs voted in favor of the motion, 100 against and 7 abstentions – a significant unanimity reached after the government of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), the Greens and the Liberal Democratic Party (FDP). ) had reached an agreement on the proposal with the largest opposition party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU / CSU). The government refused to send heavy weapons and the CDU / CSU threatened to vote on the bill to put pressure on Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Germany had previously announced the introduction of Cheetahs (Cheetah, in English, with anti-aircraft artillery systems), but Scholz described them as “defensive” (several military experts commented that this discussion is not very relevant because whether a weapon is defensive or offensive depends type of weapon).
The resolution calls on the government to “if possible accelerate the delivery of” weapons, “as well as heavy weapons and complex systems” to Ukraine. Germany was ready to support Ukraine by sending small arms, but polls show a majority is in favor of sending heavy weapons to Kiev.
The motion goes beyond the arms issue: it says the peace deal with Russia cannot be decided “over the Ukrainians.”
He also threatens China with consequences if Beijing violates the Russian embargo or supplies arms to Moscow, and urges China to “abandon its support for the Russian war.”
On the same day that Parliament approved the motion, Chancellor Olaf Scholz landed in Tokyo on his first trip to Asia: Japan and not China. Thorsten Benner, an analyst at the Berlin Institute for Global Public Policy (GGPi), commented on Twitter that the Chancellor and two close advisers to Scholz stressed the importance of this trip as a clear signal to Beijing that something has changed.
It was the opposite of previous Chancellor Angela Merkel, who prioritized good relations with Beijing: Merkel made her first visit to China, where she was twice as likely as Japan, Reuters said. Many German companies have benefited from the country’s economic growth.
Also in Parliament, the wording of the resolution on China is “a major language that China has taken over in recent months,” wrote Thorsten Benner. China has had a relatively vague policy, considered supportive, towards Russia in Ukraine.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shattered many of the beliefs on which German foreign policy was based and left Berlin to struggle with a problem, dependence on Russian energy.
This affects its relationship with China – security concerns are now far greater than the focus on trade policy and economic benefits.
In a joint press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, both stressed the forced rejection of border changes – in Ukraine by the Russian invasion, at the moment, but also possible future attempts at action in Asia.
“It simply came to our notice then status quo forcibly is something to be avoided not only in Europe but also in India and the Pacific, especially in East Asia, ”Kishida said.
Scholz, for his part, also said that protectionism was not an “alternative,” especially for “open free trade countries such as Germany and Japan.” The answer, he continued, is “a different kind of globalization, a smarter globalization.”