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Global Power Shifts

Power shifts are a fundamental phenomenon underpinning global politics. Today, again, the world finds itself in a phase of major shifts in the international order, of which the rise of the People’s Republic of China to become a great power is just the most obvious expression. These changes reflect the slow tectonic shifts of the earth’s crust – and these shifts create tensions. In such an environment, it is important for Germany and Europe to consistently emphasise what they stand for and what they advocate: a multilateral, liberal world order.

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Global Power Shifts

  • Editorial

    Power shifts are a fundamental phenomenon underpinning global politics. In 1990, as the bipolar world order finally unravelled, US political scientist Joseph S. Nye wrote: “Just as farmers and meteorologists try to forecast storms, so do leaders and analysts try to understand the dynamics of major changes in the distribution of power among nations.”

    by Gerhard Wahlers

  • It’s Time to Reshape the West!

    “America is back!”: With US President Joe Biden, there is now potential for an ambitious transatlantic policy. We should devote all our energy to reforging the alliance between Europe and the US. Anything else would be fatal, as disunity in the West only plays into the hands of our systemic rivals China and Russia. What do we need to do right now?

    by Peter Beyer

  • A Question of Identity

    The EU Needs to Become a Global Player in the Changing World Order

    The European Union’s internal structures are currently plagued by division. These rifts all boil down to a question of identity: What is the EU? At the same time, the changing world order is forcing the EU to decide who it wants to be. The answer is clear: It must take steps to become a global player.

    by Hardy Ostry, Ludger Bruckwilder

  • “The International System Is under Serious Pressure”

    Germany’s Two-Year Term as a Member of the United Nations Security Council

    For the past two years, Germany has been a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council. For International Reports, Andrea Ellen Ostheimer, Head of the Konrad-Adenauer-­Stiftung’s New York office, talks to diplomat Christoph Heusgen about the challenges and achievements of this period, the role of China ­and Russia, and Germany’s foreign policy compass.

    by Andrea Ellen Ostheimer

  • Security Policy in the Indo-Pacific

    How Can Germany Turn its Words into Deeds?

    In its new “Policy guidelines for the Indo-Pacific”, the German government commits to assuming greater responsibility for foreign policy to address shifts in the global balance of power and regional challenges. But what exactly could an ambitious Indo-Pacific policy look like? And what does the region expect of Germany? An analysis based on the examples of India, Japan, and Singapore.

    by Lewe Paul, Isabel Weininger

  • “A New and Less Benign Strategic Area”

    Australia as a Strategic Power in the Indo-Pacific Region

    When Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison unveiled his country’s new defence strategy in 2020, he announced a shift towards “a new and less benign strategic area”. With the dawn of a new era, defined by the end of the unchallenged hegemony of the US and the seemingly unstoppable rise of China, Australia is starting to view itself as a regional power and the guardian of a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific. The geoeconomic and geostrategic balance of the Indo-Pacific has perhaps shifted more rapidly and dramatically than in any other region of the world. With its key position in the South West Pacific and Eastern Indian Ocean, Australia is taking on a proactive leadership role – together with like-minded partners in the region and around the globe.

    by Beatrice Gorawantschy, Barbara Völkl

  • Will ­COVID-19 Accelerate a Global Power Shift?

    China’s Growing Ideological Influence in Africa

    The fight against the ­COVID-19 pandemic is not only a fight against ­SARS-CoV-2 but also part of the rivalry to dominate the global narrative and to exert political and economic influence. Particularly in light of the worsening relations between China and the US, management of the pandemic and respective policy successes or failures are becoming political issues. Accordingly, the Chinese Communist Party (­CCP) is using the pandemic on an ideological level to drive the shift in global power – with a particular focus on Africa.

    by Anna Wasserfall, Tom Bayes

  • The Art of Making Friends

    How the Chinese Communist Party Seduces Political Parties in Latin America

    China is increasingly turning its attention to Latin America’s political parties. Beijing is using lavish official visits and ­diplomatic pressure to yoke Latin American party officials ­to its geopolitical ambitions. Without critical public debate, the rhetoric of bilateral “friendship” threatens to undermine democracy in Latin America. Any belief that the Chinese Communist Party will engage in an equal dialogue with Latin America’s democratic parties remains a dangerous illusion.

    by Juan Pablo Cardenal, Sebastian Grundberger

  • Of Bridges and Gateways

    Turkey’s Regional Power Aspirations

    The bridge to Asia. A gateway to the Middle East and Europe. For centuries, Turkey has been considered a country linking the Western and Eastern worlds. Whether that be due to Turkish military bases used by ­NATO as bridgeheads to the Middle East, or the threats made by its president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to “open the gates” to Europe for the millions of refugees accommodated by Turkey, ­NATO member and EU candidate Turkey has been increasingly presenting the Western alliance with a fait accompli over recent years.

    by Walter Glos, Nils Lange

  • Cyber Capabilities as a New Resource of Power

    Conflicts in the Digital Sphere

    Cyber capabilities are becoming increasingly important in international relations. States with the ability to conduct cyber operations are in a strong position to expand their scope of influence in the international arena. This is particularly true for small and medium-sized countries with few traditional power resources, as cyber capabilities allow them to seriously weaken more powerful states.

    by Jason Chumtong, Christina Stolte

Other Topics

  • Outdated Elites, New Sense of Identity

    Leaderless Revolutions and the ­­­Crisis of Arab Authorities

    Ten years after the onset of the “Arab Spring”, cracks are appearing again in the autocratic façade of the Middle East and North Africa. However, the struggle to find an alternative to the ruling elite has failed due to the lack of organised political parties capable of translating anger on the streets into constructive political participation.

    by Simon Engelkes

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About this series

International Reports (IR) is the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung's periodical on international politics. It offers political analyses by our experts in Berlin and from more than 100 offices across all regions of the world. Contributions by named authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editorial team.

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Dr. Gerhard Wahlers



Benjamin Gaul

Benjamin Gaul

Head of the Department International Reports and Communication +49 30 26996 3584

Dr. Sören Soika


Editor-in-Chief International Reports (Ai) +49 30 26996 3388

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