5G network construction has become one of the hottest topics in German domestic politics. This is not only because of the involvement of Huawei and China, but also because of the complex political competition within Germany. This series of development changes has reflected some changes in the current German political atmosphere and general environment.
Since the German Social Democratic Party members recently supported a proposal that may bar Huawei from entering the German 5G market, and they emphasized that the goal of the move is to reach consensus on the proposal within the coalition government, the German government has decided on the 17th to The guidelines have been postponed until 2020.
There are multiple factors behind this. First, the German government has always been concerned by the United States about the construction of 5G networks. The latter has hesitated to share information on virtue and intelligence, which has caused some German political elites to shake their positions on this issue. Several parliamentarians determined to face German Chancellor Merkel, and mainly promoted the German Federal Parliament to issue a resolution restricting Huawei’s participation in German 5G construction. Their excuse was “Huawei is controlled by the Chinese government.” Simply calling Huawei a company of the Chinese government directly threatens German national security.
A senior scholar in Berlin joked bitterly to the author that the issues concerning Huawei now increasingly form a “position” where Merkel’s new and old opponents converge. Their principle is simple, as long as Merkel does not object, they object, and Huawei and China issues have increasingly become a tool for German domestic political struggle.
This sounds reasonable, but it doesn’t seem so simple. Today, some German parliamentarians’ actions around Huawei and their over-sensitivity on Chinese issues still reveal some new trends of these political elites:
First, there is a serious lack of understanding of China and Chinese companies, even though Germany has been vigorously promoting “China’s knowledge and capacity building” (Chinakompetenz) in recent years. The fact is that Huawei is not a Chinese state-owned enterprise at all, and its development and operation do not cost the country any penny. It is a private enterprise that uses employee shares to stimulate employees’ internal motivation to start and grow. In the past 30 years of development, it has been relying on innovation, hard work and customer-oriented service quality to become the world’s leading high-tech enterprise.
Some German parliamentarians and politicians have simply labeled such companies as “Chinese state-owned enterprises”, thereby creating a reason for themselves to be unreasonably restricted to Huawei. This is done either for ignorance or ideology bias. They don’t even care about how many jobs Huawei has created in Germany and how much progress Huawei’s advanced technology can bring to Germany’s 5G development. The fundamental purpose of bringing Huawei into the party struggle was to defeat political opponents and obtain some political capital for themselves. They do not care about sacrificing the interests of Huawei, the interests of the German people, and the global reputation of Germany’s long-standing principle of fair market competition.
Secondly, there is a serious lack of diplomatic and technical self-confidence, although in recent years, Germany and Europe have been shouting for diplomatic self-reliance and technological independence. After the war, Western Europe, especially Germany, with the full support of the United States, stood up again from the ruins of the war and step by step toward recovery, and naturally developed a full dependence on the United States. In the bones of some European politicians, this has formed the Atlantic relationship of “American masters and European servants” in line with American interests, and the “Atlantic faction” deeply rooted in the European political ecology.
In the process of suppressing Chinese enterprises represented by Huawei again and again in order to maintain global technological hegemony in the United States, German “Atlantic” politicians forgot the vow of “Europe must control its own destiny”, but succumbed to American intimidation , Step by step to join the camp against Huawei. They simply do not see that the more American hegemony is maintained, the less likely it is for Europe to take control of its own destiny. Some European technical experts believe that those politicians who have distorted Huawei’s technology and rendered China’s threat actually fell into the trap of the United States and Europe jointly curbing China. While suppressing China, objectively maintaining and extending Germany and Europe’s long-term dependence on the United States.
Third, there is a serious lack of political reason and political wisdom, and a pragmatic tradition has been forgotten, despite the rich and close relations between China and Germany in economic, educational and cultural fields.
A German music teacher who has been engaged in Sino-German exchanges for many years told the author distressed that he can feel the rich and vibrant life here every time he visits China. But when he returned to Germany to tell his friends about the new changes in China today, they not only did not want to believe, but also ridiculed him. He said that Chinese friends are thinking about how to do things. When they encounter difficulties, they find ways to overcome them. When they encounter a wall, they go over it. But in Germany, they may now stand still when they encounter a wall. He believes that the media (including social media) is like the “magic flute” of rat trappers, tempting some people to follow them involuntarily, and the brain no longer thinks independently. But the point is that some German political and social elites have joined the ranks, and in the process, they have found political weight in their favor. Politics is becoming more and more opportunistic.
A German proverb says that when the wind comes, some people build high walls to block the wind, and some people build windmills. In the face of the high-tech that increasingly determines the life of the country and society, it is important for every responsible government and political party to consider the security of its own country. To date, there is no hard evidence that Huawei poses problems for German security. If you simply think of a technology as having security concerns and just reject it, it is tantamount to building a high wall on your way. Judging from the development experience of countries in the world over the past few decades, this is not the political rationality and wisdom that an enterprising country should have.
At a time when the world economy is bleak and the international landscape is undergoing profound changes, it is still necessary to retain some confidence in reason. The deeper and broader the scope and scope of Sino-German relations, the greater the friction surface will be. This is inevitable. In fact, such frictions have been constantly appearing, and the two sides have also worked out mechanisms to resolve frictions and accumulated wisdom. We have reason to maintain confidence that both parties can overcome the current predicament, for example, the two sides ensure the mutual opening and security of technology and markets through systems and contracts.
Most importantly, for China and Germany, we must now clearly realize that we cannot treat China and Germany’s relationship with each other in the same way we treat our relationship with the United States. Because the purpose of the United States is to dominate the world and maintain this kind of hegemony, China has no hegemonic ambitions; Germany does not view China as a “zero-sum game” like the United States. Over the past few decades, China and Germany have developed rapidly in the world. Adhering to pragmatism and openness, they have advocated a multilateral world order. These commonalities and commonalities should be cherished by both China and Germany.