(Bildnachweis für das obere Beitragsbild: Photo by Trent Erwin on Unsplash)


Zu Ihrer Information:

Auf diesem Vereinsblog halten Sie die Mitglieder der KFIBS-Forschungsgruppe „USA/Transatlantische Beziehungen/NATO“ auf dem Laufenden mit Beiträgen zur US-Wahl 2020. Auch die Folgen der letzten US-Wahl werden von den Autorinnen und Autoren der o. g. KFIBS-Forschungsgruppe thematisiert und diskutiert.

Zusätzlich haben wir noch eine vornehmlich sicherheitspolitisch ausgerichtete Themenreihe auf unserem Blog zur globalen Coronavirus-Pandemie aus der Perspektive verschiedener Regionen vorgesehen.

Beide thematischen Blog-Kategorien – sprich: „Die US-Wahl 2020 und ihre Folgen“ sowie „Implikationen der globalen Coronavirus-Pandemie“ – finden Sie ab Mai 2020 unter folgenden Links:,

Mit einer dritten thematischen Blog-Kategorie „Internationale Beziehungen Afrikas“ der KFIBS-Forschungsgruppe „Afrika“ starten wir ab Juni 2023. Diese kann unter folgendem Link abgerufen werden:

Allgemeine Blog-Themen, die sich nicht den zuvor genannten thematischen Blog-Kategorien zuordnen lassen, finden Sie ab März 2022 im folgenden Seitenabschnitt.


12/06/2024: China’s Growing Influence in Africa: Why the European Union Can’t Keep up with China

Philipp Treder

$145.52 billion: This figure corresponds to the value of Chinese exports to African countries from 2021, with a strong upward trend (Statista 2022: 4). It’s no secret that China’s international relations are closely linked to China’s economic growth and strength. Since the 1950s, China has used this power, inter alia, to gain a foothold in Africa. By means of extensive infrastructure projects and investments in the African economic sector, Beijing is gradually expanding its influence on the African continent. Hailed by many African countries, whereas eyed with suspicion by European countries, China’s ‘African conquest’ is attracting much international attention. China’s influence is growing at a rapid pace, and not just in the economic sphere. Meanwhile, it becomes increasingly difficult for the European Union to counteract this situation since the EU is being pushed out of Africa. Chinese economic support seems to be a widespread phenomenon in African states. 63 per cent of African countries assess China’s influence basically positive, while only 14 per cent consider it rather negative (Statista 2022: 43). These numbers differ a lot from those of European member states. Based on these observations, the question that naturally arises is, why is that? Is Europe no longer popular in Africa? Do European deals, relations and supports have not the same quality as China’s? Or to put it in a more scholarly way: how come China’s efforts manage to enjoy greater popularity in Africa than those of the European Union? Why can European economic relations not keep up with China’s? The following article is intended to give the decisive reasons for this.

A first difference and a possible reason why African states view the relations with the European Union differently or more negatively than with China lies in the past historical relations between the various actors. The international relations between member states of the European Union and Africa are shaped by the time and the effects of the colonial era. Undeniably, there is a strong bond between these two continents, whether positive or negative. Based on the fact that European colonial powers have been active in Africa for centuries, one should assume that these powers would have learned from their previous mistakes and gained some understanding of their African neighbours through time and the exchange of culture, ideas and values which should help them gain a decisive advantage over China’s efforts.

However, various agreements between what was then the European Community and the African developing countries exemplify that this was not the case. Treaties such as the Yaoundé Convention (1963), the subsequent Lomé Convention (1975) or the Cotonou Partnership Agreement (2000) were agreements intended to promote development and economic growth in said countries. One thing that all agreements had in common was that the beneficiaries of these agreements were almost exclusively the European states (Barton & Men 2011: 5f.). Despite the partial support that these agreements nevertheless provided for African states, post-colonial relations continued to be characterized by asymmetry – a circumstance that lasted until the 1990s and which is presumably still very much anchored in the memory of Africa’s political and economic elite. Therefore, it is all the more interesting to observe how the rhetorical reorientation in the relations between the European and African states took place in the 2000s. Relating thereto, the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES) from 2007 deserves a special mention. This new initiative represents a partnership on an equal footing and is equally beneficial for both sides. How can this change of direction be explained? It is likely that China’s influence at this point had reached a level that the European Union was now aware of as a potential threat.

China has maintained friendly and supportive relations with various African countries since the 1950s. A factor that has supported this circumstance is certainly the mutual experience of foreign colonial rule. China quickly managed to gain a foothold in Africa through bilateral relations with various African countries. Where former European colonial powers tried to defend their dwindling influence by interfering in the domestic affairs of their former (now independent) colonies, China managed to build long-term and mutually respectful relationships with African countries by supporting independence movements and development aid. In the second half of the 20th century, China developed itself from being an altruistic financier and supporter (both politically and economically) to becoming Africa’s trading partner while always recognizing this as a partnership on equal terms. Just around the turn of the millennium, China’s growing influence had reached an internationally competitive level capable of challenging Europe’s position on the African continent.

Another aspect of economic relations that should not be underestimated and which may be the reason why China has so quickly caught up and overtaken the European countries in the race for influence on the African continent is that Sino-African relations are not tied to politically fulfilled conditions. The European states are trying to combine their economic interests with political development and Western ideals. The establishment of democracy and the protection of human rights are elementary components of the economic agreements. In contrast, the Chinese approach is completely value-free. Linked to this demeanour is one of the most important principles in China’s Africa policy, namely state sovereignty. Accordingly, a change in governance towards democracy, which is a domestic governance issue, would violate this principle. The Democracy Index for 2022 shows that the majority of African states are still authoritarian or hybrid regimes, which leads to the unfortunate circumstance that economic agreements and development aid in these countries are proving to be difficult or slow for EU states (EIU 2022). While European economic and development policy is restrained due to these hurdles, Chinese companies have no problem getting fully involved and becoming active. Especially on a continent where authoritarian and hybrid systems are dominant, this Chinese approach is well received, at least by the leaders and elites of African countries. Although the European value-based policy is recognized by many states, it is often interpreted as patronizing (Shikwati et al. 2022). It seems that the very ideals and values that the European Union and its member states promote are at a distinct disadvantage in Africa politics, and therefore in the race for influence.

Another final point is the speed and efficiency with which China is making its economic investments and moving forward with its infrastructure projects. The study by the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, cited above, shows that the majority of African people surveyed feels that China is much faster in making decisions about possible investments and in completing various infrastructure projects (Shikwati et al. 2022). While in European countries such projects have to pass through a complex process (evaluation, discussion on supranational and national level, tender procedure, approval) and the slow-grinding wheels of bureaucracy, China is already implementing one project after another. Why is that? This question can be answered relatively easy. On the one hand, China solely represents itself and its interests, the Union, on the other hand, is somehow trying to create a uniform Africa policy and a compromise between the 27 member states. But compromises take time – time the EU does not have if it wants to keep up with China’s pace. Another reason why the EU is lagging behind in pace and efficiency is the type of governance. After all, democratic processes need time, as different opinions and views have to be considered and heard, and interests have to be formed. The authoritarian government based in Beijing, on the other hand, is not ‘biased’ by these time-consuming democratic processes. China is an authoritarian state. There are clear guidelines from the Chinese state that set out the route for Chinese officials and Chinese companies operating in Africa. Principles and rules that have existed and been adapted for decades, when China took the step from altruistic friend and supporter to trading partner on an equal footing in the 1970s (Barton & Men 2011: 7).

In conclusion, several reasons emerge to explain why China’s influence is growing so rapidly and why ‘Chinese efforts’ are valued more highly than European ones by elites and leaders in African countries. On the one hand, the difficult colonial past of Europe and Africa plays a crucial role, especially in connection with past economic agreements and the associated development aid. European countries have historically designed these agreements and treaties asymmetrically in their favour – agreements that were perhaps not only of great economic importance for countries shaken by colonialism, but perhaps also had symbolic value due to past colonial experiences. On the other hand, the offer of economic cooperation on the terms of democracy and human rights does not appear to be lucrative for many African states, which could have something to do with their own way of governing. Furthermore, one must ask the question why an authoritarian or hybrid state would agree to the EU’s offer when it can get the same level of economic cooperation or investment from China without having to seek any domestic political efforts to promote democracy or uphold human rights. Last but not least, China acts faster than the EU.

What does that mean for the future? It can be assumed that China’s growing influence will continue to grow, not only economically but also politically. The first signs of how great China’s influence already is can be seen in the opinions of African states on the Taiwan question and in the steadily expanding range of security policy measures that China is implementing in Africa. In this regard, African countries are facing a dubious future. On the one hand, they are becoming heavily dependent on the People’s Republic of China as a result of the investments and loans from Chinese investors. This ‘debt trap’ can have negative effects in the long term, and African states could become vulnerable to political blackmail. On the other hand, the African countries are benefiting from China’s aggressive actions since the European countries are now forced to counteract this advance if they do not want to lose their influence in Africa completely – a scenario the EU states cannot actually afford due to the wealth and diversity of resources Africa has to offer. The future on how the race for Africa and the clash between two global players on the African continent will play out, remains something to look out for.

By Philipp Treder

(Hinweis: Der vorliegende Blog-Beitrag gibt nicht zwingend die Meinung des KFIBS e. V. wieder.)

(Bildnachweis für Beitragsbild:



05/12/2022: Towards a European ‘Open Strategic Autonomy’: A German View on the ‘European Chips Act’

Florian Hoppe

Undoubtedly, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has radically changed the headlines of European newspapers this year. Unlike before, issues of security policy are suddenly at the centre of media attention. Moreover, the far-reaching financial consequences of the war, for example shortages in the energy supply, are painfully felt by the broader population in European economies.

Behind the scenes there is, however, another power struggle in existence which may affect the course of European economies in the coming decades. The increasing digital automation of global industries has resulted in a soaring demand for semi-conductors. The damage caused by a shortage in the global semi-conductor supply could be observed by its effect on the German car industry in 2022.

The European Commission expects the Chip demand to double between 2022 and 2030 as indicated in the recently published ‘European Chips Survey’. Semi-conductors are the key component of the increasing global digitalisation process. This in turn causes an extreme global dependency which can be instrumentalised by certain regimes in the context of geopolitical power struggles.

So far, however, no country can produce semi-conductors autonomously. The production of wavers is a highly integrated process, and the semi-conductor value chain depends on a few actors which in turn are highly dependent on each other. However, the rising power ambition of China and the growing tensions with Taiwan raise serious concerns regarding the stability of this system of interconnected and international trade in the future. Thanks to leading global players in the semi-conductor value chain, such as TSMC, Taiwan so far can uphold its often cited ‘Silicon Shield’. The consequences of an attack on Taiwan by China for the global semi-conductor value chain would thus be devastating.

Following the EU’s leitmotif in the new trade policy of ‘Open Strategic Autonomy’, the EU has to balance the often contradictory concepts of economic openness on the one hand and strategic autonomy on the other hand. From this perspective, the ‘European Chips Act’ can be interpreted as an attempt by the European Commission to secure the resilience and competitiveness of European economies in the future. According to official EU estimates, of one trillion microchips manufactured around the world in 2020, the EU had a share of 10 per cent of the global microchips market. The ambitious goal of the so-called European Chips Act is to increase this share to 20 per cent of the global market until the end of this decade. Since the global market size for semi-conductors will also double until 2030, this would mean an increase by the factor five. Therefore, this goal is most likely not realisable as private sector actors like the association of Germany’s Electro and Digital Industry (ZVEI e.V.) indicate. However, the USA with the so-called CHIPS for America Act and, most notably, China with the ‘14th Five-Year Plan’ are trying to strengthen their semi-conductor industries as well.

The necessary size of the ‘European Chips Act’ and which waver size should be targeted in the production is still an ongoing political dispute.

Interestingly, however, there seems to be a broad agreement of many relevant actors on another issue. In their public statements both private sector actors like the association of Germany’s Electro and Digital Industry (ZVEI e.V.), the high-tech network Silicon Saxony e.V., the DIHK, as well as public actors like the German Federal Foreign Office or the European Commission state that the production of semi-conductors and their geopolitical consequences exceed both politically and financially the capabilities of the single European nation state. In contrast to the seemingly everlasting EU-bashing and unconstructive anti-EU rhetoric from some European leaders such as, most notably, Viktor Orbán, the European project seems to be more than a loose political association based on an outdated peace-building ideology of the 20th century. On the contrary, the European project presents itself in the 21st century not as a naïve dream but as a geopolitical necessity if European nation states want to omit the strategical dependence of global powers in a multilateral world order.

To refer to an unfortunate term, most famously coined by the former chancellor Angela Merkel: In the long run, a European agreement is ‘alternativlos’ or, in other words, without any reasonable alternative.

By Florian Hoppe

(Hinweis: Der vorliegende Blog-Beitrag gibt nicht zwingend die Meinung des KFIBS e. V. wieder.)

(Bildnachweis für Beitragsbild: Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash)


17.03.2022: Zum derzeitigen Verhandlungsstand im Ukraine-Krieg: Nur wenig Hoffnung auf eine diplomatische Lösung

Jakob Landwehr-Matlé

Alle Seiten im Hinblick auf den russischen Angriffskrieg betonen immer wieder, dass eine Konfliktlösung nur über eine Vereinbarung zwischen den unmittelbar involvierten Parteien zu finden sein wird. Seit einigen Tagen gibt es dazu entweder direkte Treffen zwischen Vertretern der Ukraine und Russlands oder Verhandlungsrunden im Beisein eines Mediators oder eines Moderators. Im letzten Fall haben sich beispielsweise die Türkei und Israel, die gute Beziehungen zu beiden Konfliktparteien pflegen, ins Spiel gebracht. Bisher sind jedoch die Forderungen von russischer Seite, die eine Anerkennung der Krim als Teil Russlands oder die Anerkennung der ostukrainischen Separatistengebiete im Donbass als unabhängige Staaten beinhalten, für die Ukraine inakzeptabel. Hinzu kommen Forderungen nach einem neutralen Status der Ukraine und einer „Entmilitarisierung“ des Landes, bei denen es mehr Verhandlungsspielraum zu geben scheint. Die Ukraine dringt ihrerseits hingegen auf ein Ende des Krieges mit einem vollständigen Abzug der russischen Truppen sowie auf verlässliche und überprüfbare Sicherheitsgarantien im Anschluss daran. Ein Großteil der Verhandlungen bezieht sich außerdem auf humanitäre Korridore für die belagerten ukrainischen Städte, die eine Evakuierung und Versorgung der Zivilbevölkerung oder einen Austausch von Gefangenen ermöglichen sollen. Es zeigt sich aber auch, dass selbst bereits getroffene Vereinbarungen nicht eingehalten werden, da seit Tagen festgeschriebene Routen teilweise oder gar ganz blockiert werden. Beide Konfliktparteien geben sich dafür gegenseitig die Schuld.

Aus einer theoretischen Perspektive werden die aktuellen Verhandlungen noch nicht zu einer diplomatischen Lösung führen. Weder für die ukrainische noch für die russische Seite sind die materiellen und immateriellen Kosten des Konfliktes derzeit hoch genug, um von Positionen abzurücken, die von der jeweils anderen Seite nicht akzeptabel sind oder selbst genügend Zugeständnisse zu machen, um eine diplomatische Einigung zu erzielen. Es hat sich bisher auch noch keine Pattsituation ergeben. Beide Seiten – insbesondere die russische Seite – hoffen darauf, dass die Kosten des Konfliktes sich zuungunsten der jeweils anderen Seite entwickeln werden. Die zunehmend bewusste Bombardierung der ukrainischen Zivilbevölkerung ist u. a. ein Druckmittel gegenüber der politischen Führung in Kiew, um diese zu Zugeständnissen zu bringen, sodass das Leid der eigenen Bevölkerung gelindert wird. Es ist daher richtig und wichtig, den politischen und wirtschaftlichen Druck auf die Russische Föderation zu erhöhen und gleichzeitig die Ukraine bestmöglich zu entlasten, um so Moskau von seinen Maximalforderungen abzubringen und doch noch eine Verhandlungslösung zu ermöglichen. Eine Konfliktlösung ist in dem Moment greifbar, in dem die Präsidenten der Ukraine und Russlands direkt miteinander sprechen und verhandeln, was zwar wiederholt vom ukrainischen Präsidenten Wolodymyr Selenskyj gefordert wurde, bislang jedoch von russischer Seite unerwidert geblieben ist. Dazu wird es aller Voraussicht nach erst kommen, wenn die beiden Delegationen in den Vorverhandlungen eine solide Grundlage für eine Vereinbarung gefunden haben.

Von Jakob Landwehr-Matlé

(Hinweis: Der vorliegende Blog-Beitrag gibt nicht zwingend die Meinung des KFIBS e. V. wieder.)

(Bildnachweis für Beitragsbild: Photo by ev on Unsplash)


15.03.2022: Der Ukraine-Krieg vor dem Hintergrund zweier gängiger politikwissenschaftlicher Friedensbegriffe

Kimberly Schmidt

Der Angriffskrieg Russlands auf die Ukraine hat die Friedenszeit in Europa beendet. Die unmittelbaren Opfer sind unbestreitbar die Menschen in der Ukraine selbst – und es bleibt nur zu hoffen, dass die Kampfhandlungen möglichst schnell beendet werden. Diesbezüglich wird immer häufiger die Frage in den Raum gestellt, ob es für den Frieden nicht dienlicher wäre, wenn sich die Menschen in der Ukraine einfach ergeben würden. Doch wäre das Resultat nicht vielmehr mit einer repressiven Besatzung als eine Art von Frieden gleichzusetzen? Welcher Frieden soll genau entstehen? Und welche Form des Friedens ist unter den aktuellen Umständen die wahrscheinlichste?

In der Politikwissenschaft wird zwischen „positivem“ und „negativem“ Frieden unterschieden. Das Konzept des „positiven“ Friedens verkörpert fundamentale Grundwerte wie Gerechtigkeit und Freiheit. Es beschreibt einen Zustand, der sowohl personelle Gewalt (Krieg) als auch strukturelle Gewalt (Formen der Diskriminierung und Benachteiligung) ausschließt. Diese Art des Friedens ist zurzeit jedoch äußerst unrealistisch. Die Voraussetzung für die Verwirklichung eines „positiven“ Friedens ist zunächst einmal die Realisierung eines „negativen“ Friedens, unter welchem die Abwesenheit von Krieg zu verstehen ist. Die obersten Prioritäten des „negativen“ Friedens sind daher eine Deeskalation bestehender Konflikte und die Beendigung militärischer Gewaltanwendung. Ein „negativer“ Frieden in Form einer Waffenruhe, eines einfachen Waffenstillstands zwischen Russland und der Ukraine, wäre ein erster Schritt in die richtige Richtung, da dies die Grundlage für ein mögliches Friedensabkommen zwischen den beiden Kriegsparteien legen würde.

Von Kimberly Schmidt

(Hinweis: Der vorliegende Blog-Beitrag gibt nicht zwingend die Meinung des KFIBS e. V. wieder.)

(Bildnachweis für Beitragsbild: Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash)