Speech by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle at the CDU/CSU conference on “Asia’s new global players”

13.06.2012 - Speech

-- Translation of advance text --

Ladies and gentlemen,

I’m delighted to have this opportunity to speak to the CDU/CSU and would like to thank Mr Kauder and Mr Mißfelder for their introduction.

Our partnerships in Europe and across the Atlantic are the cornerstone of Germany’s foreign policy. That’s always been the case and that’s how it will remain.

But the world is undergoing sweeping changes. Many countries are transforming themselves from developing countries into new global players and Asia is at the fore of this development.

Europe accounts for an ever smaller share of the world population. Around 60 per cent of the global population now live in Asia. Some 1.8 billion people there are under the age of 24.

Asian countries already produce almost one third of global output. The IMF is forecasting growth rates for this and the next decade of around 5 per cent above the global level for China, Viet Nam, India and Indonesia. Japan, Korea and Taiwan are top of the league when it comes to the registration of international patents. The per-capita income of Asia’s emerging economies has tripled since 1999. The Chinese middle class is growing by 15 million people each year. Or take Internet data: there were only 200,000 Internet users in Viet Nam in 2000. This year, the number has risen to 30.8 million.

Although Japan is the only Asian country in the G8, there are already six Asian countries seated at the G20’s negotiating table.

Each of these figures tells a success story. Each of these success stories offers more opportunities for more cooperation with Germany and Europe. The rise of new players, let’s remember, doesn’t spell the decline of others. Foreign policy is not a zero-sum game.

We aren’t lumping Asia countries together. Rather, we are building on customized and tailor made partnerships. Our policies are always interest-led and value-oriented.

India, the world’s largest democracy, is Germany’s strategic partner. We conduct annual intergovernmental consultations with that country. Next week, I’ll be continuing this intensive dialogue during my third trip to India. Indo-German trade rose last year to more than 18 billion euros (just over 15 billion in 2010). Germany is India’s most important trading partner in the EU and is among that country’s top ten direct investors. India is very interested in our expertise in the sphere of vocational training, and in the field of ground-breaking research we are India’s most important partner after the US.

Germany and China are linked by a strategic partnership that goes far beyond our dynamic economic relations. We are engaged in the Rule of Law Dialogue together. The next session is set to take place this July and will focus on the Internet and the rule of law. We are linked by a German-Chinese Dialogue Forum which is intended to foster networking between our societies. Our bilateral relations with China are intensive, substantial but not without differences of opinion. That’s the very reason we’re conducting a Human Rights Dialogue, within the scope of which we advocate our values and positions. It gives me an opportunity to directly address the situation in Tibet, questions relating to religious freedom and cases such as those of Ai Wei Wei and Liu Xiaobo.

We conduct intergovernmental consultations with China, too. Any country aspiring to help shape globalization must be ready to engage in dialogue. For there are no important international or global issue in which China doesn’t have considerable influence. Above all else, I’m thinking here of the situation in Syria.

However, we don’t only look to China and India. We are continually intensifying our relations with ASEAN and Asia’s emerging economies, which are waiting on the sidelines, and we want to lead the way here. Six of the Next Eleven are Asian states.

We concluded a strategic partnership with Viet Nam in 2011. Alongside good intergovernmental contacts, our bilateral relations are benefiting from the around 100,000 Vietnamese who speak German. With Indonesia, we have initiated work on a strategic partnership. The EU Commission is planning to give the green light to an EU trade agreement this autumn.

Myanmar is in the process of opening up – both politically and economically. This is a success, partly due to the right course set out by the common EU external affairs policy and the close cooperation with our transatlantic partners. Myanmar can become another Asian success story.

Successful networking relies on openness and Germany’s foreign policy is an advocate for openness.

The ideal way to forge close economic ties is to advance free trade. In Europe, we talk a lot about growth but not enough about free trade. The agreement with South Korea is a great success and model for other partnership and free trade agreements which are linking Europe ever closer to Asia and its booming economies. We’re still working on agreements with Japan. I’m counting on your support here! We’re also pushing for further free trade agreements between the EU and Singapore, Malaysia and India.

The raw materials partnerships concluded with Mongolia, Kazakhstan and Australia in 2010 are an important dimension of our policy on Asia.

In an age of rapidly growing global interconnectedness, we have to reassess our interests with regard to visa policy. The spirit of a modern visa policy has to be shaping openness instead of managing division. The Federal Foreign Office is prepared to exhaust the existing leeway for visa liberalization, simplified application procedures and a more transparent policy on issuing national visas. The Federal Foreign Office is reacting to the rise of Asia by extending our consular network in Asia. Last year we began to issue visas in Bangalore, India. In China, I will be opening our fifth Consulate-General in Shenyang before the end of this year.

Germany’s foreign policy stands firmly on the side of democracy, the rule of law and individual human rights such as freedom of opinion and religion. We firmly believe in the universality of these values, as do many of our closest partners: for example, Japan, South Korea, Australia and India.

We don’t want to, indeed we cannot, force other states undergoing modernization to adopt our values. We set a good example and offer assistance if wanted. We can do this with confidence, knowing as we do what a powerful message these values of ours have for others.

Human rights, democracy and the rule of law don’t stand in the way of states. Rather, they enhance their development towards peaceful and stable societies. I said so publicly at the opening of the Art of the Enlightenment exhibition in Beijing.

The great economic success of the Asia-Pacific region can’t mask existing security challenges. The festering conflicts in the South China Sea or the fragile situation in the North Korean peninsula require active and responsible crisis management. The EU wants to contribute its experience of cooperation and integration here. That’s why we support ASEAN’s efforts to deepen its cooperation.

We are also promoting Afghanistan’s attempts to enter into cooperation with its neighbours. Lasting peace in Afghanistan isn’t possible without Pakistan and Iran.

The US wants to employ greater resources in the Pacific region. Germany, too, will develop existing partnerships in Asia and establish new partnerships. Any country which wants to help shape globalization cannot sidestep Asia. A globalized world and the rise of major new players pose a twofold challenge. New global issues need to be addressed – and that requires cooperation with more and new partners.

The major global challenges ranging from climate change to food security and energy issues, not to mention the stability of financial markets, cannot be mastered without our Asian partners.

The United Nations is at the heart of a world domestic policy dedicated to cooperation. Asia is underrepresented in the Security Council. We’re working together with our G4 partners India and Japan on a reform which will change that.

The goal of our foreign policy is to win the support of our Asian friends as active partners in shaping globalization. That will be to our mutual benefit. And it reflects our shared responsibility for the whole picture.

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