Germany is reluctant to order cartridges. An important component for the projectiles comes from China. And the People’s Republic has good reason to delay deliveries here.
It has long been known that Germany has a problem with its Bundeswehr. The media keep reporting how few operational tanks or guns the German army has. In response to Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine, Finance Minister Christian Lindner has made 100 billion special funds available for the Bundeswehr. But money is not the only problem on the way to a complete overhaul of the army.
According to a report in the daily newspaper “Die Welt”, there are currently only cartridges for a few hours, at most days, should the army become involved in a battle. So Germany would not be able to defend itself. This problem cannot be solved that easily either, because an important component of the bullets comes from the People’s Republic of China: linters. Linters is a by-product of cotton manufacturing that is found in every cartridge and bullet, be it for a rifle or a tank. According to the report, all arms manufacturers in Europe obtain this substance from the People’s Republic.
But the important raw material is only slowly exported from there. On the one hand, the poor management of the corona pandemic by the communist nomenklatura in Beijing has severely affected supply chains worldwide. On the other hand, China’s support for the warmonger Vladimir Putin could also be a reason why the linters are no longer being supplied as before. In the past, the Chinese Foreign Ministry, in line with the Kremlin’s rhetoric, wrongly blamed NATO for the outbreak of the invasion war against Ukraine.
Alexander Görlach is Honorary Professor of Ethics at Leuphana University in Lüneburg and Senior Fellow at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs in New York. The PhD linguist and theologian is currently working on a project on “digital cosmopolitanism” at the Internet Institute of the University of Oxford and the Faculty of Philosophy at New York University.
Alexander Görlach was a Fellow and Visiting Scholar at Harvard University in the USA and Cambridge University in England. After stints in Taiwan and Hong Kong, he has focused on the rise of China and what it means for East Asian democracies in particular. He has recently published the following titles: “Red Alert: Why China’s Aggressive Foreign Policy in the Western Pacific Is Leading to a Global War” (Hoffmann
From 2009 to 2015, Alexander Görlach was also the publisher and editor-in-chief of the debate magazine The European, which he founded. Today he is a columnist and author for various media such as the Neue Zürcher Zeitung and the New York Times. He lives in New York and Berlin.
For a while, Beijing balked at openly supporting its partner Russia by supplying arms. In the meantime, however, that has changed: Chinese weapons are said to reach the front in occupied Ukraine via the Stone Age dictatorship of North Korea, a friend of both Beijing and Moscow. By withholding ammunition components, the People’s Republic could influence the course of the war in Ukraine in Moscow’s favor without itself appearing as an active opponent of the free world.
If you have to speculate a bit about the reasons, the numbers are irrefutable: before the corona pandemic, it took three months from ordering to delivery of linters from the People’s Republic, now it should be between six and nine months.
Part of the problem, however, is German reluctance to order cartridges and projectiles. Leading arms manufacturers are quoted as saying that Berlin waited too long to place orders, while other European countries quickly stocked up and thus did not have to pay for the lack of linters with a less security. Berlin, on the other hand, still doesn’t seem to have arrived in the new reality of war.
Red Alert: How China’s aggressive foreign policy in the Pacific is leading to a global war
The modest announcement by the SPD-led federal government in February, immediately after the start of the war, that it would send 5,000 helmets to the Ukraine, was the pace-setter for Germany’s military engagement on the side of Kiev, and was widely laughed at by the population. Chancellor Scholz then maneuvered around all summer before the decision was made to send an air defense system to Ukraine. Self-propelled howitzers should also have arrived at the front in the meantime. Compared to the commitment of the United States or Great Britain, Berlin’s contribution looks rather puny.
The Berlin industry service “Security Table” assumes that the KP sees the manufacture of powder and explosives as part of the systems competition between the Beijing dictatorship and the free, democratic world. One would now like to know how the new China strategy of the federal government, which has been eagerly awaited for months, will comment on this problem. Recently Chancellor Scholz single-handedly made it possible for the People’s Republic to buy part of the Port of Hamberg, which is relevant for Germany’s security. The chancellor’s office still doesn’t seem to have grasped the seriousness of the situation.