Large parts of the world have become dependent on the People’s Republic through trade with China. Also Germany. If Berlin doesn’t find a new way of dealing with Beijing, we will pay a bitter bill.

The last two weeks could have finally taught Europeans that a new world order in which their continent no longer plays a role is dangerously close. China’s aggressive economic policies target European core industries.

The European, French and German requests to China’s ruler Xi Jinping to please be considerate and not flood the Old World market with cheap products came to naught. It would be a treat for Xi to see the old Europe, which he despises, on the ground.

For European leaders who still want to win over Xi, this prospect is much more than a bitter pill to swallow. Through trade with China, large parts of the world, not just the liberal democratic part, have become dependent on the People’s Republic. Xi Jinping knows this. All the talk about “de-risking” and “de-coupling” – it’s mostly just talk.

In reality, German companies invested more in China last year than ever before. Without trade with the People’s Republic, Germany’s economic output would collapse by a full five percent, according to a calculation by the Kiel Institute for World Economic Research. And Jakob Gunter from the Merics Institute even predicts a global recession if the world gets really serious about decoupling from China.

Xi Jinping’s strategy to subjugate the world through economics is as simple as it is convincing: state-owned banks invest in state-owned companies with money that the state-run central bank prints. In this way, companies that are not useful to the state are removed from the Chinese market.

Companies in which the state is only a shareholder and not a majority owner still have to parry within the repressive system with which Xi dominates the Chinese people and do what the party demands of them.

Of the 1.4 billion people in China, “only” just over 100 million are party members. But as in any dictatorship, this comparatively small group manages to use intimidation to keep the rest of the population under their thumb.

And of course, entire industries also benefit from the goodwill of Xi and his enforcers. Start-ups, for example, are working on the total surveillance of the oppressed Uyghurs in northwest China. Here Xi is using the most evil methods against the people based on a “racial” delusion of superiority of his “Han race”.

China exports this terror technology to other dictatorships and now leads a global terror alliance. Xi has Kremlin dictator Vladimir Putin, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un and the mullahs of Tehran under his thumb.

All these actors may still believe that they are on equal footing with Beijing and have autonomy. In reality, they can no longer do anything without Beijing’s goodwill and consent, let alone against China’s interests.

Xi Jinping is financing all of this on credit and is therefore keen to make the Chinese yuan the reserve currency as quickly as possible. The yuan is already one of the most important currencies in the world. However, the unique position of the US dollar gives the USA the opportunity to sanction terrorist states such as China and Russia.

And the global power of the dollar also cushions the effects of turning on the printing presses. China wants to use the instrument of its currency to dictate the policies of other countries sooner or later.

China’s market remains elementary for the world at the same time. German companies such as Volkswagen and BASF have linked their fortunes to the growth of this market. Without China, these companies would be on the brink, with implications for Germany as well. This is likely to be the main driver for Chancellor Olaf Scholz to ante-chamber the German economy in Beijing.

Through its social media platform TikTok or the conference platform Zoom, Beijing also has propaganda and control tools at its disposal that allow Xi and his nomenklatura to suppress unpleasant content and broadcast their own messages to millions upon millions of people.

The USA, as the only military and economic superpower, has chosen a path that Europe is still afraid to take: new tariffs on many Chinese imports and the threatened ban on the TikTok platform are measures with which Washington is defending itself against China’s new imperialism. The tariffs are intended to protect American workers from job losses due to dumped products.

At the same time, Washington is pursuing the goal of keeping China away from computer chips that are important for military use. The threat from Beijing is real: Chinese companies are still trying to buy land near military installations in the United States.

Almost overnight, hundreds of students from China enrolled at the universities located in remote regions of the Philippines where the US will build new bases. Beijing’s steering power, economic and through reprisals, knows no limits. Students are forced to spy on their campus. Otherwise, the party threatens to commit violence against her family in China.

Xi always claims that the West is still colonialist. It is Xi who is building up his army in Asia, positioning missiles in the South China Sea and possessing more and more nuclear warheads. It is China that is exerting political and economic pressure on all countries that have allowed themselves to be lured into the New Silk Road trap.

Just recently, Peru had to learn that you have to read the fine print in the contracts with the clever communists. The country lost control of a security-critical port overnight. Now Beijing has the say there.

In Europe, Xi is already calling the shots in Hungary and Serbia. Viktor Orban, who has Chinese police operating in his country, is hoping that Beijing will allow several of its electric vehicle manufacturers to build factories in Hungary. And nationalist Serbia is on Russia’s and China’s side.

As is so often the case when it comes to foreign and security policy issues, Germany is unable to change course and adapt to a new situation. In addition, Scholz does not have the stature of his predecessor Angela Merkel, who was respected even in China and Russia.

At the same time, their political style of waiting until there is only one left out of five possible options, which is then sold as having no alternative, does not help in this case. Berlin must actively and in conjunction with its allies find a new way of dealing with China that is not dictated by Volkswagen, BASF and Co.

The people of Germany will pay the bill if this does not happen. Otherwise, Berlin politicians have stuck to their arrogant dictum for too long that rational and interest-driven thinking also drives people like Putin and Xi.

The truth is that dictators are still willing to put their ideology above all else. The Old World, used to dominating the rest of the world for over 500 years, will have to learn to live under the imperial clutches of China.

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. After a stay in Taiwan and Hong Kong, he focused on the rise of China and what this means for the democracies in East Asia in particular. 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 outlets. He lives in New York and Berlin.