When world leaders meet in Hamburg on Friday for the G-20, China and Germany will be the countries that will take the place of the US, as Donald Trump embraces protectionism and his policy is not in line with other nations.
The two industrial powers in Asia and Europe are being pushed into an informal alliance to take over the leadership the United States seems to have given up since President Donald Trump took office earlier this year.
The situation has crystallized ahead of this year’s G-20 annual meeting, to be held in Germany’s busiest commercial port.
That is partly because, for the first time since the group was founded, the United States will be represented by a president who embraces protectionism, abandoning decades of US promotion of free trade.
The United States was also isolated on climate change at a May summit of the smallest group of the Club of the Seven in Italy, where the final communiqué was divided six to one on the subject.
This time, Trump risks being alone in front of a united front of European allies, neighbours like Canada and Mexico, and old enemies of the United States of the Cold War on the two most important subjects of the summit.
Three visits to Germany by Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang to date, most recently last month, suggest that the two nations are lined up to occupy a space that the United States, at least temporarily, left vacant under the presidency of Trump.
The two most important leaders in the world are President Xi and Chancellor Merkel at this time. The ties between China and Germany have been strengthened for years, driven by common economic interests and do not face obstruction by the geopolitical rivalries that complicated relations between Beijing and Washington long before Trump’s election.
Germany needs markets for its high-end industrial machinery and vehicles, and China wants them – so much so that it bought the German Kuka robotics company.
“China-Germany relations are at their best historical moment,” Michael Clauss, Germany’s ambassador to Beijing, said in a recent report to reporters.