German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was yesterday scheduled to hold confidential talks in Washington with US President Joe Biden about the war in Ukraine amid growing concerns that China might provide weapons to Russia as its invasion grinds into a second year.
Biden and Scholz are to meet for an hour at the White House, including a significant “one-on-one component,” giving the two men a chance to “exchange notes” on their respective recent meetings with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and the state of the war, a senior US official said.
“Both of the leaders wanted this to be a working-level meeting, wanted it to be very much a get down into the weeds, focused on the issues of Ukraine,” the official said.
A major topic is to be the push to deliver fresh Western support to Ukrainian forces, which are bracing for new Russian offensive in the coming weeks, officials said.
Washington is due to announce a new US$400 million military aid package for Kyiv on the day of Scholz’s visit, they said.
Scholz arrives as the US is consulting with allies about the possibility of imposing sanctions on China if it provides military support to Russia for its war in Ukraine, according to four US officials and other sources.
Neither Washington nor Berlin said they have seen evidence of Beijing providing weapons to Moscow, but US officials have said they are monitoring the situation closely.
Germany has taken a much less hawkish stance on China, its top trading partner. It has suggested that China could play a role in bringing about peace.
US officials welcomed Scholz’s speech to the German Bundestag on Thursday, in which he urged China not to provide arms to Moscow and asked Beijing to pressure Russia to pull back its forces.
“US policymakers have a chronic concern that industrial European powerhouses like Germany will allow their commercial interests in China to temper their willingness to take tough positions on security and geopolitical issues,” said Daniel Russel, who served as assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs under former US president Barack Obama and is now with the Asia Society.
“The Biden administration will use the Scholz visit to try to shift Germany’s balance in the direction of stronger pushback,” he said.
The White House last month said that Scholz’s visit would be an opportunity to “reaffirm the deep bonds of friendship between the United States and our NATO ally Germany.”
Last month, a vast delegation of US officials including US Vice President Kamala Harris and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken attended an annual security gathering in Munich, with many praising Germany for overhauling its foreign policy to support Ukraine.
Yesterday’s meeting “is not a sign of crisis. It is an opportunity to deepen the personal relationship between both leaders,” German Marshall Fund Berlin bureau director Sudha David-Wilp said.
US officials said that Scholz would likely raise concerns about US subsidies for green technologies under the Inflation Reduction Act, which Germany has said could put its companies at a disadvantage.
Critics said the measure is a slap in the face to Europe from its biggest ally at a time when Europe is struggling with sharply higher energy prices due to the Ukraine war.
A US-EU task force is meeting on the issue, but Washington has said it cannot change the law, and said the tax credits could benefit European firms by driving down costs for clean energy globally.
COMMUNICATION: A US representative said that Starshield is inactive in and around Taiwan, which could put US military personnel at risk in the Western Pacific in a conflict Space Exploration Technologies Corp (SpaceX) might have contravened its Pentagon contract by not providing access to its satellite communication network Starshield in and around Taiwan, a letter from a US House of Representatives committee to the company said. In September last year, the US Department of Defense awarded SpaceX a one-year contract for Starshield access, worth US$100 million. A few months before that, the Pentagon also commissioned SpaceX’s Starlink satellite network to be used by Ukrainian forces amid Russia’s invasion. Starshield is a derivative of Starlink intended for military use. SpaceX has long worked closely with the US military and intelligence agencies, which
SEEKING CALM: The US called for maintaining the ‘status quo,’ while the Ministry of National Defense said it would not bolster defenses in the area to avoid raising tensions Taiwanese should have greater faith in the government’s investigation into the capsizing of a Chinese vessel that resulted in the death of two Chinese fishers last week, the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) said yesterday, adding that Taiwan abides by the rule of law. On Wednesday last week, a Chinese speedboat was spotted trespassing in “prohibited” waters within 1.1 nautical miles (2km) of the east coast of Kinmen. It fled after refusing the coast guard’s request to board the vessel, setting off a chase that led to the boat capsizing, with two Chinese fishers dying. Two survivors were deported back to China
GREAT EXPECTATIONS: TSMC founder Morris Chang said he has high hopes for the new fab, based on his experience in Japan 56 years earlier, and amid high demand for AI Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) yesterday held an opening ceremony for its first chip manufacturing fab in Kumamoto, Japan, which it hopes will improve chip supply resilience and help Japan usher in a semiconductor renaissance. The Kumamoto fab is slated to enter volume production in the fourth quarter of this year. The Japanese government said it would extend its financial support of the project to include the construction of a second factory, as TSMC’s investment is crucial to its efforts to revive its semiconductor industry. The Kumamoto fab is owned by a joint venture, Japan Advanced Semiconductor Manufacturing Inc (JASM), which
WAR GAMES: While US and Japanese militaries practice coordinating troops to stage landings, Taiwan is next month to test artillery and uncrewed aerial surveillance vehicles The US Marine Corps and the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force have begun a military drill to simulate the retaking of outlying islands in Kyushu and Okinawa Prefecture in a conflict scenario, the Sankei Shimbun reported yesterday. The drill, commonly known as “Iron Fist,” has been held in the US since 2006 before being moved to Japan for the first time this year, it said. The large-scale operations are conducted with a possible “Taiwan emergency” in mind, aiming to keep China in check, it said. Unlike last year’s exercises, which focused on on-site training, this year’s maneuvers include strategy formulation and command for each