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Gerhard Schindler, former head of the Federal Intelligence Service between 2011 and 2016, urged Germany to curb its “strategic dependence” on Beijing. He also urged the country to ban Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from its 5G network, in the same vein as the UK and other Beijing-skeptic nations. It comes world leaders have ramped up sanctions and surveillance against China over human rights violations and military actions in the South China Sea.
In an interview with the Times on Sunday, Mr Schindler detailed how Beijing approaches international relations, and sounded alarm for Europe over its reliance on China for exports.
He added: China is going about things very cleverly, very quietly, but all the same with an astonishingly consistent strategy, and it is a concern that we in Europe hardly notice this dominant behaviour.
“Our stance towards China has been dominated by business relations. We need to reconsider that. We are partly dependent on China, for example with our car industry.
“But you can’t ease this dependence by becoming more dependent; we should strive to be less dependent.”
He went on to point to Huawei as a major example of China’s influence, claiming the telecoms firm’s technology was so much more advanced than its European rivals Germany could no longer tell if “back doors” existed in its 5G network.
He added: “It’s as though an engineer specialised in steam engines were supposed to assess an internal combustion engine.
“If Huawei were to build [5G network components] we would have no idea what they were building.
“You can imagine where we are in a crisis and the threat ‘We’re going to turn your communication network off’ would influence our decisions.”
Mr Schindler’s warnings come after other global experts have warned of China’s plot for world domination, with a report from the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies detailed China’s targeted approach to Europe and moreover Germany.
Emily de la Bruyere, senior fellow at the foundation and co-author of the report, added Beijing looks at Europe as the “battlefield for what they diagnose to be a Third World War”.
She added to Fox News: “China sees Germany as the linchpin in that battle.
“If China can win Germany, it can win Europe. It can win the world.”
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Germany has in recent months refrained from provocative actions against China due to close trade ties between the two countries.
According to Destatis, the Federal Statistical Office of Germany, China is Germany’s largest trade partner as of 2019 and is responsible for €1.328 billion in exports and €1.105 billion in imports.
But Berlin has recently began tabling more anti-China measures over Beijing’s restrictive security law in Hong Kong and other actions.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government are set to discuss banning Huawei from its 5G network in the coming weeks over concerns on national security.
China has also began escalating its military drills in the South China Sea in a major warning of war to Indo-Pacific nations like Taiwan and the Philippines.
Last week, state media broadcaster CCTV showcased a Chinese jet fighter in a display of military strength.
Taiwan has launched complaints against Beijing for fly-overs above the Taiwan Straits, which has cost the island country millions in defences.
US officials have also warned China of consequences due to their military aggression, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accusing Beijing of a “campaign of bullying” in July.
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