Germany warns US against ceding lead role to China, Russia

BERLIN • Germany's Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has urged the US to limit Russian and Chinese influence or risk bringing about "the end of our liberal world order".

The comments by Mr Schaeuble, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Cabinet since she took office in 2005, are one of the strongest expressions of concern among European policymakers that President Donald Trump's administration is disengaging the US from its global role on trade, climate change and security.

Europe and the US must stand together at a difficult time, the veteran minister said.

"I doubt whether the United States truly believes that the world order would be equally sound if China or Russia were to fill the gaps left by the US, and if China and Russia were simply given a free hand to dominate the spheres of influence that they have defined for themselves," Mr Schaeuble, 74, said in a speech on Tuesday at the American Academy in Berlin, a think-tank that promotes US-German ties.

"That would be the end of our liberal world order," he said.

Mr Schaeuble's remarks to an audience whose members included former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger and former treasury secretary Lawrence Summers came less than three weeks before Dr Merkel hosts Mr Trump, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and other Group of 20 leaders for a potentially difficult summit in Hamburg.

Dr Merkel set the tone after meeting Mr Trump at the Group of Seven summit in Sicily last month, saying reliable relationships "are to some extent over".

EXPRESSION OF CONCERN

That would be the end of our liberal world order.

MR WOLFGANG SCHAEUBLE, Germany's Finance Minister, on the United States disengaging from its global role on trade, climate change and security, and letting the gap be filled by Russia and China.

Her latest call for defending free trade came yesterday at a celebration of US-German ties since World War II.

Protectionism and isolationism "impede innovation and, in the long run, this is disadvantageous for everybody", Dr Merkel said. "I'm a supporter of open markets."

BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 22, 2017, with the headline 'Germany warns US against ceding lead role to China, Russia'. Print Edition | Subscribe