Sixteen years under the Administration of Angela Merkel (Christian Democratic Union, CDU), Germany maintained its steady economy and status of richest big nation in Europe. She was skilled in foreign policy adopting a smooth relationship with the U.S. and a realistic trading partnership with China. During her tenure as Chancellor, she visited China twelve times traveling all over including some underdeveloped regions in southwest China obviously with a long vision for the future. Post WW II, Germany was broken into two, West and East Germany, occupied respectively by the U.S. and Soviet Union with their army. West Germany, under the Marshall plan, with her industrial foundation and industrious people, recovered quickly (>25% GDP growth rate in the '50s and ~18% in '60s) to be no. 3 economy in the world next to the U.S. and the Soviet. During Cold War (1945-1990) the Soviet economy could not keep up, and Japan and later China rose. At the end of the Cold War, the two Germany’s united and became the no. 4 economy after the U.S., China and Japan. Politically, Germany has always been pro-America under the influence of the U.S., partly because the U.S. had always cultivated control of Europe after the war and partly because the U.S. had absorbed many top European elites including many Germans as immigrants to America creating an 'American Dream' for Europeans, especially for youth. Hence, there is a considerable population of German living in the U.S. and a significant attraction of German youth to America. Germany has many political parties, if one party cannot get more than half of the Congressional seats, a multi-party coalition government must be formed. Hence, Olaf Scholz (Social Democratic Party, SPD) the current Chancellor must lead a coalition government, except not as united as Merkel's coalition.
Merkel’s party, CDU, formed a union with SPD and Christian Social Union in Bavaria, CSU, to form a government. The opposition parties were Alternatives for Germany, AfD, Free Democratic Party, FDP, the Left, and the Greens. Scholz’s 17 cabinet positions were filled by 9 SPD members (including the Chancellor), 5 Greens members (including Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck and Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock) and 3 FDP members (including Christian Lindner Minister of Finance) exhibiting far more divisive political views. For example, Habeck and Boerbock both had expressed their views opposing Scholz’s regarding Germany’s China policy and their attachment to the U.S. Post WW II, West Germany owned up to her responsibility of causing the world war and apologized to the world. Germany adopted a multi-party democratic political system devoted to economic recovery. With the U.S. Marshall plan, West Germany recovered quickly and developed a strong pro-America political sentiment while East Germany was suffering under the West’s economic sanction. After the end of the Cold War, the Soviet Union collapsed, and East and West Germany got United with a more prosperous future. But on foreign policy, Germany has always been following the U.S., even after France promoted EU, Germany still adhered to a following U.S. foreign policy, perhaps because Germany had always been under US military protection. France, on the other hand, had been more independent in her foreign policy and economic development, however, she would always be echoing the U.S. on ideology – promoting freedom and democracy - since French was proud that she had exported those principles to America.
The U.S. depended more on its military strength than economic power to lead the world under the banner of freedom and democracy. The U.S. economy was once 40% of the world economy but now is below 20%. Her major assistance to foreign countries is in maintaining the U.S. military bases, troops, and foreign agents. (50,000 troops, $10,000 per soldier stipend and $40,000 expenses and equipment would easily make $2.5 B. The U.S. has hundreds of foreign military bases.) For the security of Europe (and ease of controlling Europe), the U.S. organized the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO established in 1949) to resist the Soviet Union and to tie the West European countries together. NATO may be effective as a collective deterrent to the communist Soviet, but its ever-expanding strategy threatening Russia is neither peacekeeping nor providing real security to Europe. The NATO expansion strategy eventually triggered the Russia-Ukraine war. When Russia invaded Ukraine with the justification of protecting the Russian-speaking Ukrainians and supporting the two states in Eastern Ukraine declared independence, the U.S., EU and NATO were all united in condemning Russia and supporting Ukraine with military aid. As the war prolonged and got serious creating damage and refugees, the U.S. and NATO had no intention to mediate a ceasefire, instead, sanctions on Russia is expanded forcing Russia to control the energy supply to Europe and trade oil and gas only with Russian Rubles. Then the incidence of bombing the Russia-Europe undersea gas pipeline occurred further creating an energy crisis and severe inflation (The U.S. is the only one benefiting, her liquid gas is shipped to Europe selling with four times the price). With the further bombing of the Crimea bridge, the danger of the conflict is raised to a nuclear war level. The present Europe situation is forcing the leaders of Germany and France to ponder very hard, they must consider acting independently from following the U.S. strategy of confronting both Russia and China, be it the Ukraine war, South China Sea, or Indo-Pacific policy. Despite his ministers of finance and foreign affairs having given anti-China rhetoric and following the U.S. footsteps of decoupling with China, Chancellor Scholz earnestly organized a team of German enterprise leaders to visit China just before the G20 meeting in Bali, Indonesia. He indeed had obtained a large airbus order. French President, Macron, will be visiting China next year. He also had a private meeting with Xi at G20 in Bali. From what we can learn from the news reports, both sides have expressed concerns about whether EU countries can act independently in foreign affairs. From the above discussion, we may conclude that Germany and France seem to have finally realized that one-way unconditional follow-U.S. foreign policy will actually hurt their own countries. The recent events seem to be evidence that Germany and France have applied a fast brake on their previous U.S.-China foreign policy.
In November, G20 and APEC took place in Indonesia and Thailand, respectively. Biden and Xi both attended G20 and held a private meeting for more than three hours. From the news communique, it appears that U.S.-China relations may have thawed a little. Secretary of State Blinken is planning to visit China in the new year to work out crisis avoidance and recovery of cultural exchanges. Examining how Xi and Biden each were welcomed at G20 (more than ten national leaders including Biden tried to have a chance to meet with Xi), the world seems to be showing a big positive change in attitude towards China and Xi's philosophy (prosperity for mankind as a whole). We can sit back and watch what is going to happen in the years ahead!