Merkel: The US pushes us closer to China

German Chancellor Angela Merkel still isn’t showing any signs of warming up to the Trump administration, seemingly running her own European version of the #RESIST movement. She’s not on the same page in terms of military spending by her country, trade deficits or America dropping out of the Iran deal. And what’s the practical upshot of all this in her mind? Perhaps instead of the United States, China would be better to have a special relationship with. Or at least that seemed to be the message coming out of her trip to Beijing this week. (Reuters, emphasis added)

China welcomes German firms and will protect their investments, China’s Premier Li Keqiang said on Thursday after meeting visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said Germany supported Chinese investment there.

Merkel faces a delicate diplomatic balancing act on her two-day China visit, which is clouded by U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade threats and his decision to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal…

Merkel’s government shares many of the Trump administration’s concerns about Chinese business practices, including what many Western countries have complained are state-backed efforts to pressure foreign companies into giving up trade secrets.

But Trump’s “America First” trade policy, his administration’s professed disdain for the World Trade Organization, as well as his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, have pushed China and Germany into closer alignment, German officials say.

This isn’t the first time that Merkel has dangled this particular threat in our direction. Going all the way back to June of last year, she was in talks with China and spoke about how that nation was going to need to be a strategic trading partner going forward since Germany could no longer rely on the United States. Of course, given America’s lengthy history of both trade and antagonism with the Chinese, she would probably be wise to take our experiences into account before doing anything hasty. Remember when Sauruman decided to make an alliance with Mordor?

Trading with China is one thing. Everybody does it, including the United States (in massive amounts). But that doesn’t make them a full partner in any sense nor any less of a potential threat. They’re also not the most reliable trading associate, particularly given how often they absorb the technology anyone exports to them and then steals their intellectual property rights. And they’re not exactly a good ideological fit either. Merkel may be a seriously left-wing socialist, but the Germans still have a generally open society. China’s communist regime is something else entirely. Has Merkel forgotten her misgivings about China’s human rights record and aggressive military stance in the South China Sea?

This was Merkel’s 11th trip to China in her 13 years as Chancellor. Up until now, she’s maintained a relatively delicate balance between their two nations. It will be interesting to see if she jumps into the quicksand fully this year.

Update: Another view tweeted by Fox News, focusing more on Iran v. China.