• Germany's news in English

China shows growing clout at Munich security conference

AFP · 5 Feb 2010, 10:06

Published: 05 Feb 2010 10:06 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The 46-year-old gathering in Germany from Friday to Sunday of top military brass, diplomats and politicians has its roots in the Cold War and has traditionally stuck to areas of common interest to Washington and Europe.

But mirroring the fact that many of the 21st century's security challenges are now global in nature, from terrorism to the nuclear programmes of Iran and North Korea to Afghanistan, the conference is widening its scope.

Alongside China's Yang Jiechi, who will give the conference's opening address on Friday, senior representatives from India and Pakistan are also expected, with Washington sending Senator John Kerry, National Security Advisor James Jones and Afghanistan-Pakistan envoy Richard Holbrooke.

Others include Afghan President Hamid Karzai, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. It was unclear, however, if Iranian officials would attend as in previous years.

"We can only answer today's security questions if we are ready to think globally," said Wolfgang Ischinger, the veteran German diplomat who organises Munich. "And that means involving Asia."

US President Barack Obama is counting on fellow UN Security Council member China on a whole range of security issues, most notably to back his efforts in pressing North Korea and Iran over their nuclear ambitions.

But with Washington and Beijing already failing to see eye to eye in several areas, relations took a turn for the worse this week as China threatened diplomatic reprisals over US arms sales to Taiwan.

Moreover, relations with China are not the only foreign policy area where things are failing to match up to Obama's rhetoric, a year after Vice President Joe Biden used Munich to promise a "new tone."

Topping the list are Obama's vision for a world free of nuclear weapons, the bogged-down Afghanistan mission, stalled efforts to reach out to Iran and the spluttering Middle East peace process.

Russia, another veto-holder on the Security Council, is also key to Obama's ambitions, and here too the reality is not as rosy as was hoped when Biden vowed in Munich to "reset the button" in relations with Moscow.

Moscow and Washington are yet to agree on a replacement to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) which expired in December, ahead of a review conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in May.

Story continues below…

The Kremlin is still sceptical about Obama's plans for a missile defence shield to intercept Iranian rockets, parts of which would be in Europe, even though the project has been substantially watered down.

The US administration is reportedly placing specialised ships with missile-targeting capabilities off Iran's coast, and anti-missile systems in at least four Gulf states - Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

The eastwards expansion of NATO has also stuck in Moscow's throat, and the military alliance's future is set to be on the agenda, particularly with regard to Afghanistan after last week's crunch London conference on the mission.

"After a year of great visions, pressure is now growing that these big words, these very beautiful and important words, be followed by deeds," Ischinger said.

Related links:

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Munich to get 'nice toilets' to serve cross-legged locals
Photo: DPA

The Bavarian capital has a pee problem - the city only has one public toilet for every 13,000 inhabitants. But a new plan could rescue desperate locals, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports.

German kids get glowing report for their English skills
Photo: DPA.

As if multilingual Germans don't already put many English-speakers to shame, now the younger generation is improving their English skills even more.

Berlin museum controversially recreates Hitler bunker
The reconstruction of the Hitler bunker. Photo: DPA

Sensationalized or compelling history? Berlin museums clash over new Nazi bunker exhibit

Germans think they're fit, but they're really couch potatoes
Photo: DPA.

There's been an increase in the number of Germans who define themselves as "fit", but their lifestyle choices don't quite match this self-perception.

10 fascinating facts you never knew about German beer
Tennis coach Boris Becker and his wife Lilly at Oktoberfest 2016 in Munich. Photo: DPA

From malt and monks to Radlers and rivalries, the story of German beer is as rich and wonderful as its selection.

Intensive farming 'endangers a third of German species'
Photo: DPA

There are 32,000 species of animal, plant and mushroom life native to Germany. Due to intensive farming methods, one in every three of these is endangered, a new report shows.

German hospital uses therapy to 'treat' paedophiles
A poster from the campaigne "Don't offend", which offers therapy to paedophiles. The sign reads "Do you love kids more than you'd prefer? There's help." Photo: DB Scholz & Friends / DPA.

A unique German initiative is offering therapy to paedophiles to control their urges, with the aim of getting them help before they offend.

Minister: 'no tolerance' for clowns after chainsaw attack
Photo: DPA

Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière has called for a zero-tolerance approach to 'killer clowns' after a series of attacks culminating in two teenagers being chased by a clown wielding a chainsaw.

Baby who was auctioned on eBay taken away from father
Photo: DPA.

A German court ruled on Thursday that a man who put his one-month-old baby up for sale on the online auction platform eBay should only be allowed contact with the child under supervision.

Portugal's ruling party calls German minister 'pyromaniac'
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. Photo: DPA.

The head of Portugal's ruling Socialists called German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble a "pyromaniac" on Thursday after he criticized Lisbon for reversing course on austerity.

10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd