While Angela Merkel visits China to tighten Sino-German eocnomic bonds, United States faces hot water with the German Chancellor over possible espionage charges.
The United States and Germany's political relationship took another sharp snap when news agencies reported that a 31-year-old German citizen had passed along documents to the U.S.
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On a trip to China, German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed anger at the Monday reports of the recruitment. One of the stronger U.S. alliances has been strained after Edward Snowden leaked that the National Security Administration had placed bug in Merkel's phone in February.
According to the Financial Times's Tom Mitchell and Jeevan Vasager, the German government isn't taking the invasion and espionage lightly. "Angela Merkel indignant at claims US recruited German as double agent" notes that while the U.S. manages to push their European alliance away, China has stepped up to take over the position.
At a press conference in Beijing, Merkel stood next to China's premier, Li Keqiang, without mincing words. “If the allegations are true it would be a clear contradiction as to what I consider to be trusting co-operation between agencies and partners.
According to Central Intelligence Agency, Germany has the fifth largest economy in the world, and the largest economy in the EU. With a continuous growth rate, importing and exporting products offers a solid economic partner.
After World War II, the U.S. helped to rebuild and reshape the European nation into a strong economic force. As a founding country in the European Union and Eurozone, power is important and the U.S. helped to foster the relationship.
It's easy to see why China sees the benefit if America is willing to throw the relationship aside. For example, Volkswagen is the largest car seller in the Asian country and willing to put 2 billion Euros into two plants in Tianjin and Qingdao.
The new alliance is crystal-clear, too: upsetting the economic power of both countries is dangerous to American growth. Not to mention the additional 13 billion Euros in Chinese stock markets.
Heiko Maas is Germany's justice minister and agreed with the Chancellor's words. "The Americans have to observe the law just like everyone else. This case must now be cleared up quickly and comprehensively with all legal means.” And the only way to repair the severely compromised relationship is by working with the country in the already-launched investigation.
Germany's found in an ally in China since both feel American agencies often overstep legal boundaries and fracture solid alliances while acting as the world's police. Mr. Haas clearly stated, “The intelligence agencies have to observe the rules. If they don’t, they must face criminal proceedings.”
While the Chinese and Germany governments do not see eye-to-eye on subjects like Crimea, which the U.S. and German governments do agree on, the shift could be potentially dangerous for America.
A Sino-German relation damages the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership agreement that the United States has been trying to push amid a growing anti-American sentiment. FT asked a Berlin-based analyst with Teneo, a consultant firm, what the impact would be. Carten Nickel openly admitted, “It wasn’t popular in the first place. It’s more complicated to make concessions and work towards consensus.”
Losing Germany as an ally would damage American standing in the EU and for international conflicts.
According to the White House spokesman, Josh Earnest the relationship is important, especially “on security and intelligence matters.” The American-German alliance is “built on a lot of shared trust. It’s built on friendship, and it’s built on shared values.”
Of course, the “that’s obviously a big ‘if’” on the breach of trust undermines claims to the contrary.
Downplaying seems to be unwise as politics change in the digital age. The world is watching the fall out as well. If America will spy on an ally, what will they do to an enemy or opponent?