On many levels, China is changing the global rules to its own benefit:
Extending its soft power influence throughout particularly the developing world. Eg paying for infrastructure in African countries in return for mineral rights - but also in doing this, it gains influence over/with African countries. This is also happening in the Pacific and elsewhere. Even in Europe, where a Chinese company purchased a controlling stake in the Athen's port Pireaus when Greece was on its knees ... and now Europe find this is one port where it cannot control or monitor what goes in our out of Europe. http://puzzlefinancialadvice.com.au/2018/AFR/180226_AFR_Western_Europe_Our_only_existential_threat_is_China.pdf
Trump, it can be argued, did Europe a favour last year with his shock tactic rhetoric last year that compelled German Chancellor Angela Merkel to declare that "we Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands".
Gabriel argued China and Russia were trying "to test and undermine" the liberal Western world order.
He noted an increasing global claim to power by China, as well as Russia asserting itself militarily, as phenomena leading to "massive shifts in our world order with unpredictable consequences". With the United States "no longer by far the strongest power in the world", others were starting to stake their claims, Mr Gabriel said. "I'm sure neither the US nor Europe will be happy in this new architecture," he said. "Powers will start shifting with the rise of China. The new Silk Road initiative is not what some people in Germany think it is – only a sentimental reminiscence of Marco Polo – but an attempt to establish a comprehensive system to put a Chinese mark on the world. "It is not just about business and industry. China is developing a comprehensive system that is not like ours, not based on freedom, democracy and human rights."
It is the historic shift in the strategic tectonic plates with the decline of the US and Europe and the rise of China that keeps analysts awake at night. It's not necessarily because they see China as a threat – just as a massive disrupter to the existing playing field. One European policy maker observes that "our only existential threat is China".
In this view, the big unknown – and the most galvanising prospect – is what happens when the two major belligerent powers on the Eurasian continent – Russia and China – start to rub up against each other. A likely cause of such tensions are the transport links China is building to Europe, pushing into parts of central Asia which Russia regards as its sphere of influence.
As Germany's Gabriel observed at the Munich conference, China appeared to be "the only country in the world that seems to have a real global strategic idea and they are pursuing this idea consistently".
It was perfectly understandable that China would be doing this, Mr Gabriel said – "they are very right to do so." But he said the West was at fault for not having a new strategy to meet this new challenge and create "a new balance in our world order".
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!