Angela Merkel visiting India to bolster ties amid China's growing clout
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is paying a three-day visit to India, starting on October 31, to seek ways to strengthen bilateral economic and strategic ties. Merkel is accompanied by a high-profile business delegation, as well as 12 German cabinet ministers, who will be holding meetings with their Indian counterparts to explore areas of mutual cooperation.
During her visit, Merkel will hold talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Ram Nath Kovind and other senior officials. On the agenda are a range of subjects including trade and investment, agriculture and high-tech. Both sides are expected to sign deals to promote cooperation in areas such as sustainable development, urban mobility and artificial intelligence.
Merkel's visit comes days after the German Parliament passed a resolution calling for upgrading the ties between Germany and India.
During the discussion in the Bundestag, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas described India as a "pillar of stability" in South Asia. "It would be dangerous from a European point of view to constrict Asia policy too much to China, especially as we have a partner in India that is much closer to our values and our understanding of democracy," said Maas.
'A natural partner'
"We in Germany, as well as in Europe, have so far focused more on China, while underestimating the significance of India," said Johann Wadephul, deputy leader of the joint parliamentary party of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU).
Although Europeans benefit from business dealings with China, Beijing's stated aim to become the world's dominant technological and economic player by 2049 means that China poses a growing economic challenge for Europe, Wadephul told DW.
"No country in Europe or Asia that wishes to hold its own against China's growing power can do so by relying only on itself," he said. That's why, Wadephul underlined, we're seeking to build "an alliance of multilateralists" with "shared values."
"As the world's largest democracy, India is a natural partner for Germany within this larger alliance."
Wadephul also touched on the subject of freedom of navigation, saying that Germany is committed to a "free and open Indo-Pacific ocean."
"This is not just a matter of solidarity with India, but stems from a wider concern about open sea lanes," he stressed, pointing to potential flashpoints such as the Strait of Hormuz, South and East China Seas, among others. "These flashpoints present a global security challenge that India and Germany should address together," said Wadephul.