Following the US, other Western countries are looking to increase their presence in the Pacific to counter Beijing. On Thursday, Germany’s Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said Berlin is looking to join Australia in the region for naval drills.
The defense minister said Germany will send a Navy ship to the region next year to join Australia for joint exercises. Echoing the rhetoric coming out of Washington, Kramp-Karrenbauer said China is undermining a “rules-based world order” and said Germany wants to increase its footprint in the Indo-Pacific by teaming up with “like-minded” allies.
“China has its own ideas about individual freedoms, human rights, our Western idea of democracy,” she said. Kramp-Karrenbauer also called China’s global infrastructure project, the Belt and Road Initiative, a “challenge we have to react to.”
The US has been partnering with allies in the Pacific for joint naval exercises, including Australia, who joined the US, Japan, and India for the annual Malabar drills off India’s coast this year. In previous years, India was hesitant to allow Australia to join the drills, fearful of the message it would send to Beijing. But with India-China tensions high over a border dispute in the western Himalayans, New Delhi decided to allow Canberra to join in the show of force.
Some US officials hope the informal alliance of the US, Japan, India, and Australia, known as the Quad, could be the basis for a NATO-style alliance in Asia. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has hinted at expanding the alliance into Asia to counter Beijing.