German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock InternationalIndiaAfricaMOSCOW (Sputnik) – China is Germany’s “competitor” and “systemic opponent,” but Berlin still cannot separate itself from Beijing in the modern globalized world, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told a Spanish newspaper on Monday. “We agree that we can not separate ourselves from China in the globalized world. But we should not be naive … China is a competitor, a partner, but also a systemic opponent,” Baerbock was quoted by the newspaper as saying. In this regard, the top German diplomat urged Europe to be “geopolitically more active” in its systemic rivalry with Beijing. “Over many years, we, Europeans, had believed in a supposedly ideal world, where challenges of other parts of the globe do not affect us really. China has strategically taken advantage of this gap we left to expand its influence, create economic dependence, for example, in case of the New Silk Road. We have not done enough to stand up to it,” Baerbock said. China’s Belt and Road Initiative, sometimes also referred to as the New Silk Road, is a massive infrastructure project launched in 2013 by Chinese President Xi Jinping and encompassing multiple development and investment initiatives initially aimed at linking East Asia and Europe by means of transport infrastructure. Over the last decade, however, the project has expanded to Africa, Oceania and Latin America, building up Beijing’s economic and political clout and raising concerns in Western countries that the New Silk Road might be a transitional link to China-centered regional integration and military expansion.