Greens’ chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock presses for a tougher stance on Russian and China in order to protect human rights and democratic values.
On April 19th, Baerbock announced that she would run to replace Angela Merkel as chancellor in the upcoming September election. It’s the first time that the Party has been a contender for the chancellorship in its 40-year existence. If she succeeds, Baerbock would make history by becoming the first Green leader of a major world economy.
In an interview with Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) newspaper, Baerbock said that Europe needs to strive for a policy of “dialogue and toughness” with China and Russia in order to ensure stability.
China’s global ambition and human rights transgressions
When broaching the topic of China, Baerbock said that European relations with the country are a ”competition of systems” between authoritarian forces and liberal democracies.
She added that while China is too powerful to simply cut off ties with, liberal democracies must act accordingly to protect their values. As an example, she suggested that certain products made from forced labour be banned in Europe.
Her proposal stems from the recent plight of Uughurs being exploited to produce cotton from China’s Xinjiang region.
She also described China’s belt and road initiative (a massive infrastructure project that would stretch from East Asia to Europe) as “hardcore power politics.”
Furthermore, when addressing security risks with Chinese technology, Baerbock stated that Europe could limit cooperation with Chinese electronics suppliers.
“If the Chinese government requires Chinese corporations such as Huawei, for example, to pass on European data and information, we cannot integrate products from such manufacturers into European infrastructure.”, she said.
Russian threat to Europe’s security
During her interview, Baerbock took aim at Russia saying Germany must increase pressure on Russia following its recent military threats near the border with Ukraine.
Moreover, while she backed Ukraine’s wish to be included in the EU and NATO, she pointed out that ensuring stability between Ukraine and Russia should be the main priority at the moment. This could be done, notably, by making sure that the Minsk Agreements, which seek to peacefully resolve the conflict between Russia and Ukraine in eastern Ukraine, is adhered to.
The Nord Stream 2 Russian gas pipeline across the Baltic Sea to Germany also stirred controversy as critics argued that the project could be used as a geopolitical weapon to weaken Europe. On the subject matter, Baerbock petitionned for the definite withdrawal of the project.
Finally, the Green candidate also revisited the question of the presence of U.S. nuclear weapons in Germany. She proposed that steps towards denuclearization could be taken as part of the atomic disarmament negotiations between Moscow and Washington.