A disillusioned Germany is deemphasizing its close economic ties with China to do more business with liberal democracies that have more respect for the rule of law such as Japan, South Korea and Singapore.
Germany is the last of Europe's major powers to sour on China. Its move away from China means trade and business will no longer be a major factor in its changed relationship with China. China currently accounts for almost 50 percent of Germany's total annual trade due to Germany's China-centric policies.
Germany's decades-long infatuation with China was summed-up by the phrase, "Wandel durch Handel," or "change through trade." In living-up to this maxim, Germany deluded itself into believing China's authoritarian and communist politics would somehow evolve into a free, open, and more democratic system through wider economic ties.
The advent of Xi Jinping and his unbridled push for China's world leadership at all costs put paid to this unrealistic assumption. Germany has since seen itself on the losing end of Xi's push for Chinese hegemony.
This new reality prompted Chancellor Angela Merkel in January to announce Germany will take a "fresh look at the map."
"As Europeans, we need to think very hard about how we position ourselves (regarding China)," she said.
This re-positioning led Germany on September 2 to release an official foreign policy document for the Indo-Pacific where it said it will not support "the law of the strong" and will "avoid unilateral dependencies." Both statements are indirect references to China.
The document adopted new policy guidelines covering the Indo-Pacific and strongly emphasized the importance of the rule of law and promoting open markets in the region. The strategy is similar to the approach taken by France, Japan, Australia and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
"We want to help shape that order, so that it is based on rules and international cooperation, not on the law of the strong," said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.
"That is why we have intensified cooperation with those countries that share our democratic and liberal values."
Germany wants to diversify its partnerships in the Indo-Pacific and "avoid unilateral dependencies," said the policy document.
The profound shift away from China will immediately affect areas such as economic partnerships, human rights and maritime security. Germany will also look to strengthen structures of international cooperation, in particular with ASEAN, with which it will cooperate more closely in future.
ASEAN consists of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Foreign policy experts said what Germany's huge geopolitical shift intends to achieve is to formally recognize the importance of the Indo-Pacific region, both economically and geopolitically, and to modify its actions and policies to ensure greater engagement. "With the rise of Asia, the political and economic weights are increasingly shifting to the Indo-Pacific region," according to the document. "The region will become the key to shaping the international order in the 21st century."
Germany is also concerned about growing Chinese aggression, and again reiterated the importance it places on countries that follow a rule-based international order.