onsdag 4. august 2021

Germany wades warily into South China Sea fray

Germany has deployed a warship into Asian waters for the first time in nearly two decades, reflecting the European power’s growing ambitions in shaping the 21st century global order. On Monday, the German Navy’s frigate, Bayern, set sail from the port of Wilhelmshaven in the North Sea for a seven-month-long journey across a dozen ports in the Indo-Pacific.

According to German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, the German warship is expected to make port calls from Djibouti and Karachi in the Arabian Sea to Diego Garcia and Perth in the Indian Ocean as well as Singapore in the Malacca Straits, then all the way to Guam and Tokyo in the Western Pacific. Though seen as largely symbolic, the German deployment is meant to signal the European power’s commitment to uphold freedom of navigation in international waters, protect “open societies” across the Indo-Pacific, and express solidarity with fellow democratic countries.

To China’s chagrin, Bayern is also set to sail through the hotly disputed South China Sea with port calls in Vietnam, a newly-minted European Union defense partner, which happens to be China’s fiercest rival in the contested maritime area.