German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen arrives in China today as part of a larger diplomatic tour of Asia. The purpose of her trip is to promote a heightened international security role for Germany.
Von der Leyen will meet with her Chinese counterpart, Defence Minister Wei Fenghe. She is expected to raise concerns over corporate cyberattacks on German companies and reaffirm Berlin’s commitment to defending its economic and security interests in the region in an uncertain global trade outlook. However, the visit is also part of a larger shift in German strategic thinking. Uncertainty about the US commitment to European security and heightened scrutiny of Chinese investment has forced Germany to promote a greater role in protecting the multilateral order in Asia and ensuring the continued relevance of European interests in the region.
For Berlin, the trip is a test of support for its ambitions to take on a greater role in international security. Along with the bilateral security discussions, additional talks on prospects for the reform of German defence policy will also highlight opportunities for greater engagement with China on European defence and economic interests. Expect von der Leyen to ultimately commit Germany to becoming more active and assertive in the region.
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Kai looks at security and political turbulence in the emerging market economies and also serves as a publisher with The Daily Brief.