Mathias Döpfner is that still rare thing — an outspoken German. I have known him slightly for many years and admire his brain and boldness: a long time ago he even came close to buying the Telegraph Group. The 6ft 7in CEO of Axel Springer has just issued a challenge to Europe and particularly to his own country.
In an article published on Sunday, he told Germany that it must stop dithering and choose. The coronavirus, he says, has brought out the great danger the Chinese Communist party presents to the West. If Germany does not lead the EU to side with the United States (and with post-Brexit Britain, Australia etc) European businesses will be snapped up by post-Covid China and Europe could ‘suffer a similar fate to Africa, on a gradual descent towards becoming a Chinese colony’.
The West should not have let China into the WTO in 2001: ‘The big mistake was to expose democratic market economies to a nondemocratic state capitalism that exploits easier trading and competitive conditions without subjecting itself to the same rules.’ China’s ‘highly perfected system of digital surveillance… translates the perversions of the KGB and Stasi into the 21st century.’ Döpfner warns: ‘If Germany decides to expand its 5G infrastructure with Huawei, that will place an enormous strain on transatlantic relations. It would be a turning point, as America could no longer trust Germany.’ That sentence should chill British readers. It’s already happening here.
This article is an extract from Charles Moore's Spectator Notes, available in this week's magazine.