China has announced that its head of state will hold a virtual “tone-setter” meeting next week with the heads of Germany and the European Union, providing an opportunity for Xi Jinping to deepen ties with Berlin and Brussels.
The meeting comes as Germany proposes to play a larger role in the Indo-Pacific region, a development that has prompted Chinese state media to warn that “China-Europe relations may never be the same.”
“The Himalayas and the Malacca Strait may seem a long way away,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas declared on September 2. “But our prosperity and our geopolitical influence in the coming decades will depend not least on how we work together with the countries of the Indo-Pacific region.
“We want to help shape that order,” Maas continued, “so that it is based on rules and international cooperation, not on the law of the strong.” He said Germany has intensified cooperation with “countries that share our democratic and liberal values.”
Global Times, an arm of Chinese state media, responded a day later with an article that questioned Europe’s capacity to wield influence in the region, and bristled at the notion of an Indo-Pacific strategy, which has been formalized in U.S. policy statements for two years. The United States changed the name of its former Pacific Command to Indo-Pacific Command in May 2018.
Secretary James N. Mattis, Secretary for @DeptOfDefense, announces the renaming of U.S. Pacific Command to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command to recognize the increasing connectivity between the Indian & Pacific Oceans and America's commitment to the #IndoPacific! pic.twitter.com/PXk8eeRoWW
— U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (@INDOPACOM) May 30, 2018
The concept of Indo-Pacific “is not a simple political term, nor is it value-neutral,” the newspaper argued. Rather, it said, “this term implies one of the geopolitical focal points of the intensifying U.S.-China strategic rivalry.”
The article went on to say that Germany's latest policy guidelines “reveal its recognition of the U.S. strategic orientation toward the Asia-Pacific region, and even herald a U.S.-Germany convergence in the future of their attitudes and overall policy lines in handling issues in this region.”
The article also questioned Europe’s potential to influence strategic security in the region, saying the continent has not been regarded as a stakeholder within the region “for a long time.”
“Whether in military tensions in the South China Sea or in the territorial disputes of the East China Sea, East Asian countries such as China, Japan and South Korea are more concerned with the orientations of the U.S., but do not take Europe seriously,” it said.
Nevertheless, the Global Times article said, “Changes are emerging on the horizon, and China-Europe relations may never be the same.” It noted that Germany and other European countries appear to be contemplating moving investments out of China “to India, or some [other] Southeast Asian country,” posing a more urgent challenge to China.
Beijing’s concerns are not groundless, said Roderick Kefferpuetz, a political analyst and member of the Atlantic Council's U.S.-Germany Renewal Initiative, based in Baden-Württemberg, in southwest Germany.
The German government’s new guidelines mark the first time Berlin has acknowledged a need to diversify its investments, Kefferpuetz said. “That doesn’t seem like much, but for Germany, that’s a strategic change. Whether words will be followed by action will be seen.”
Kefferpuetz described the Global Times article as an attempt to accentuate differences among Germany, the EU and the U.S. while “belittl[ing] the EU.”
“By doing so, it misses the bigger picture,” he said.
“Several years back, China was expanding its influence in Europe — buying up companies, establishing a variety of political platforms and engaging with EU member states bilaterally and regionally. Now, the tables are turning,” Kefferpuetz said.
Europe, he said, is increasingly wary of Chinese influence, and “relationships are souring.”
Meanwhile, European powers are moving closer to China’s immediate neighborhood, Kefferpuetz said in a written interview with VOA. He cited Britain’s plan to send an aircraft carrier to patrol in the South China Sea next year, Germany’s just-announced Indo-Pacific strategy and a similar strategy that France published last year.
“By claiming that the EU is weak, and the transatlantic alliance is divided, the Global Times article just highlights how nervous China must be, given Europe’s push into the Indo-Pacific alongside the United States,” Kefferpuetz said.
Robert Spalding, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, has served in senior defense and diplomacy positions in the U.S. government, including senior director for strategy at the National Security Council under U.S. President Donald Trump.
He told VOA in a phone interview on Thursday that the Global Times article’s emphasis on the relative importance of the United States in the region contradicted previous Chinese assertions.
“They’ve been saying we’re not important, that the United States has ceased being relevant, hence the need for China to take over,” he said with a laugh.
He added that Beijing appeared to have lost its footing in managing the increasingly complex global relationships.
“They don’t know what they’re doing,” Spalding said.
EU-China Summit Has Some Germans Rethinking Relations With Beijing
A high-profile virtual summit among Chinese and EU leaders this week has spurred some influential Europeans to rethink their continent’s relationship with Beijing, and especially whether economic considerations have been overemphasized at the expense of human rights.
Monday’s digital get-together — led by Chinese President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor and current EU President Angela Merkel — concluded with several vague commitments to “enhance mutual trust, seek mutual benefits on a win-win basis and uphold multilateralism,” according to China’s Xinhua news agency.
But German politicians and news organizations were asking hard questions about Europe’s relationship with China even before the start of the talks, which had been planned pre-pandemic as a gala affair in the German city of Leipzig. The summit also included European Council President Charles Michel and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.
“How do we position ourselves towards #China? Is China only a huge market or do we as the EU want to play a role in shaping the world order?” Norbert Röttgen, chairman of the Bundestag foreign affairs committee, asked in a tweet hours before the meeting began.
Today the #EUChinaSummit takes place. At its centre sits the question: How do we position ourselves towards #China? Is China only a huge market or do we as the EU want to play a role in shaping the world order? Most important signal towards China would be: We won't be divided.
— Norbert Röttgen (@n_roettgen) September 14, 2020
“Did Germany get too friendly with China?” headlined a feature story published by Deutsche Welle.
While there is a growing consensus in the United States that the policy of “engagement” with China has largely failed, the question is still intensely debated in Germany. Calls for soul-searching — in some cases even a complete overhaul of status quo — appear to be getting louder.
“There are at least as many German lawmakers, German members of parliament that are strongly supportive of human rights, in particular human rights in China, as you’ll find in the U.S. Congress,” said German Green Party legislator Reinhard Buetikofer, head of the EU’s Delegation for Relations with the People’s Republic of China, in a telephone interview.
Gyde Jensen, representing Germany’s northernmost region in the Bundestag, is just such a lawmaker. Considered a rising star, the 31-year-old chair of the parliament’s human rights committee proudly pins a photo of herself with a Hong Kong activist on her Twitter account and believes Germany should keep Huawei out in its 5G plans.
Seit über eineinhalb Jahren fordert die @fdpbt stärkere Einhaltung von Völkerrecht und #Menschenrechten in #Hongkong.
Gestern habe ich @nathanlawkc getroffen und die Auslandsreise von #WangYi Revue passieren lassen.
Unser Fazit: #CCP hat falsch gepokert – 🇪🇺 steht zusammen. pic.twitter.com/gEhXuBlD4P
— Gyde Jensen (@GydeJ) September 3, 2020
Prominent members of the academic community have lent their voices to the cause.
“German governments, both past and present, have consistently prioritized trade with China over other enlightened German national interests, for example democracy and human rights,” said Andreas Fulda, a German social and political scientist who launched a petition in May calling for a reappraisal.
We need to talk about Germany. Let's start with an inconvenient truth: German governments, both past and present, have consistently prioritized trade with China over other enlightened German national interests, for example democracy and human rights. 1/16https://t.co/NcuRAAXGAH
— Andreas Fulda (@AMFChina) May 26, 2020
For too long, foreign trade promotion has topped Germany’s policy configurations toward China, Fulda said in an email interview. Corporate voices have been over-amplified in public discourse while “for decades hyp[ing] the significance of the Chinese market” in order to justify trade and investment “with an authoritarian China.”
China, for its part, likes to remind Europeans of the economic advantages of the relationship. Ahead of Monday’s meeting, Beijing conspicuously announced that the German auto industry continued to reap profits in China, while business interests elsewhere have been pummeled by the coronavirus pandemic.
“German car giants increased their sales in China, with Mercedes-Benz seeing a 21.6 percent increase in the second quarter compared with the same period last year, even as its sales in Europe dropped by 31.5 percent during the first half of the year,” said a September 9 article published in the Global Times, an arm of Chinese state media.
Germany, for its part, declared China as its top single-country export destination in the second quarter of this year, surpassing the United States.
Some Chinese netizens suggested that Beijing’s increased purchases from Germany were part of a strategic move to secure Berlin’s friendship. Otherwise, one wrote, European nations “would all follow the footsteps of the Czech Senate leader” who recently led a delegation to Taiwan.
Senate President Miloš Vystrčil led an 89-member Czech delegation to Taipei on a trip described as honoring the spirit of Vaclav Havel, the first democratically elected Czech president following the disintegration of the Soviet bloc 30 years ago.
“My view is that if we focus on money, we will lose [both] our values and money,” Vystrčil said prior to embarking on the journey.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen increases Corona Measures
Because the number of corona infections in the Garmisch-Partenkirchen district has exceeded a critical mark, the Corona measures for the community have been increased for seven days. As the district office announced, people who have visited certain bars on Tuesday evening will be asked to report and be tested. On that evening, according to news reports, infected people had visited the bars, but not all contact persons could be traced.
The number of confirmed new infections with the coronavirus exceeded the critical mark of 50 people per 100,000 population within the last seven days. Due to the current situation, the test center in Garmisch-Partenkirchen is also open on Saturday and Sunday from 3 to 8 p.m.
Young people in particular are called upon to be tested, local news reported.
As of today, all restaurants in the Bavarian municipality of Garmisch-Partenkirchen have to close daily at 10 p.m., as it was said. Only a maximum of five people are allowed to meet in public space – this also applies to all restaurants. For private events, the number of participants is limited to a maximum of 50 people in closed rooms or up to 100 people in open air.
Thanks to Wirecard Erotic Massage Services move to MyDirtyHobby, Pornhub & Big7
Massage Studio’s are moving to the Virtual Online Space thanks to Wirecard’s Bank and some porn portals registered in Cyprus, Gibraltar and the US.
The women’s with whom IsaanLive spoke and wrote almost all say that they have to keep working, otherwise the money will be scarce and women’s have now also registered as Amateurs on MyDirtyHobby.com, PornHub.com, Big7.com to offer either virtual service or on one on one meetings. On Mydirtyhobby, an amateur said that since she joined the MDH, she gets around EUR 0.30 per message for chatting to customers and around 1.30 EUR for sending a 1 minute video of herself naked and in different positions.
Thanks to Wirecard Erotic Massage Services move to MyDirtyHobby, Pornhub & Big7
I just enter my virtual IBAN account from Wirecard Bank in Ascheim and Paxum in the United States sends me every month around the 16th my monthly commissions. Last week, I received 1,600 EUR and used my Paxum Mastercard in the US to take the funds out from the ATM. What surprised me was that Paxum in the US actually opened the IBAN account for me at Wirecard Bank in Germany and it is all Tax-free.I was worried late June that my ATM would no longer work but Paxum guaranteed that we will get paid even if Wirecard shuts down operation.
The longer the corona lockdown lasts, the more sex workers switch to illegality
The men always ask for the extra,” says Alexa on the phone, whether it’s a blowjob, handjob or real sex – in the end, nobody came just for a back massage and that’s a problem for Alexa. She offers erotic massages in an apartment in Hamburg, but what she does with the men there is actually not allowed at the moment.
Sex work has been banned in all federal states since mid-March to curb the spread of the coronavirus . In 10 out of 16 federal states, other sexual services such as table dancing are also prohibited. It is unlikely that this will change soon. There is also a comprehensive ban in Hamburg, not just for the brothels, but for all places where prostitution is offered: meeting apartments, cars and massage studios, as well as for home and hotel visits. Anyone who offers massages with a “happy ending”, ie massages whose goal is to achieve an orgasm with the customer, is punishable by law.
Alexa is from Russia and offers “Happy Ends”. She doesn’t want to give her name and Alexa is a pseudonym. Their fear of being exposed is too great. She is listed on the internet on a scene portal, you can chat with her via Whatsapp and make an appointment. Alexa is actually a trained massage therapist and acupressure and as a freelancer, she doesn’t make ends meet and has therefore built up a second pillar as an erotic masseuse.It was very difficult in the first months of the corona crisis, says Alexa. “A lot of men were afraid, nothing was going on.” You started to learn software coding in online courses. “I want to get into IT, no more erotic massages” but when contact restrictions for wellness massages, hairdressers and beauty salons were relaxed in May, Alexa started to massage again.
The massages have become a popular loophole: where the brothels are still closed, the massage studios start in the back rooms. The studios are allowed to offer classic wellness massages without sexual background again. A hygiene concept prescribes how customers have to be accompanied to the massage bench. Some studios and independent providers take advantage of this to secretly also offer erotic massages with happy ending.
“We just have Sonja, Leila and Mailin there. They do everything you want. ”
Massage studio owner on the phone
IsaanLive has discussed with one massage studio in Hamburg, which are known on relevant online portals for offering “happy end” massages. Only two have indicated on the phone that erotic acts are currently prohibited. All others have either hinted at such services or advertised them aggressively. A studio operator enthused: “We just have Sonja, Leila and Mailin there, they do everything you want.” Another was more cautious: “It’s not so good to talk about it on the phone – but I don’t care what you talk to the girls about in the room.”
The “girls” don’t always have a lot of say. Although they know that they are currently not allowed to offer their services, many do so because of economic hardship or because there are clients.
“Because many brothels remain closed, women are forced to continue prostitution in other ways,” says Stephanie Klee of the Federal Association for Sexual Services. First they hit those who “live from hand to mouth”. It has now become so long that sex workers with reserves have to work again.
“Prostitution moves into the underground as long it is banned,” says Stephanie Klee. And that becomes a problem: “Many women and men who are now visiting homes and hotels for the first time do not know how to protect themselves from intrusive suitors who do not accept a no.” In the past few days, the head of the association had received more and more photos of colleagues who showed how some women had been badly beaten. “It is scary what I had to look at.”
Other EU countries have long allowed prostitution
Little has changed since March. Even back then, we researched the scene and talked to women who had to continue working in apartments despite the lockdown.
The federal association is now calling for demonstrations to have sex workers work again. “We already worked out hygiene concepts at the beginning of May, but so far they have been ignored,” said association spokeswoman Stephanie Klee.
Sex work is now permitted again in Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Austria and the Czech Republic. Only Germany has had a difficult time evaluating so far.
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