Tag Archives: Trade

What Monroe Doctrine? Dragon Spreading its Wings over Latin America and Caribbean

(Caption for photo at top of the post: “Chinese President Xi Jinping, Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela, and their wives by a Chinese ship in the Panama Canal, December 3, 2018. LUIS ACOSTA/AFP via Getty Images”.)

Further to this 2015 post,

China Buying Brazil, or, What Monroe Doctrine?

the pace of the PRC’s embrace just keeps accelerating–below from a major article at Business Insider June 6 ( via Canadian Military Intelligence Association). The US military does seem to be rather hyping the defence worry factor at this point; the huge Chinese economic influence is worrying enough it its own right:

The US military is watching China’s presence grow in Latin America, and it doesn’t like where things are going

*US officials and lawmakers have for years voiced concern about growing US influence in Latin America.

*For military and national-security leaders, that influence has security implications for the US.

*Despite US warnings about dealing with China, many leaders in the region see little on offer from the US.

As the US increases its focus on global competition with China, officials have singled out Beijing’s inroads into Latin America as a growing threat to countries there and to US interests in the region.

At recent congressional hearings and public events, those officials have cautioned that China is investing in digital and physical infrastructure, natural resources and extractive industries, and in political and military relationships across Latin America and the Caribbean in a multipronged effort to secure access and influence and gain leverage over countries there in order to advance its own commercial and strategic interests.

Although China’s engagement with the region has focused on economic ties and it has not established a military presence there [emphasis added], US military commanders, national-security officials, and lawmakers believe Beijing’s investments have implications for US security.

At an August 2021 hearing on her nomination to lead US Southern Command, which is responsible for Central and South America, Gen. Laura Richardson said China comes to the region “with very sophisticated plans in order to capture the interests of the countries, willing to loan billions of dollars.”

“I look at that from the military lens of projecting and sustaining military power for the [Chinese People’s Liberation Army] with this expansion,” Richardson said at the time.

Richardson’s remarks echoed those of her predecessor, Adm. Craig Faller, who told the Senate Armed Services Committee in March 2021, his final appearance as commander, that China was “rapidly advancing” toward its goal of “economic dominance” in Latin America within the next decade [emphasis added].

Beijing “is also seeking to establish global logistics and basing infrastructure in our hemisphere in order to project and sustain military power at greater distances,” Faller told lawmakers [evidence?].

At a hearing on China’s presence in the region in April, Sen. Marco Rubio, citing a report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, said China is using its economic heft and political ties to convince countries there to make decisions that favor Beijing and “undermine democracy and free markets.”

The same report, Rubio added, said China’s military seeks “to deepen its engagement in the region by funding the construction of ports, space programs, and other dual-use infrastructure that frankly is pretty clear it appears to have a limited economic purpose but could serve as future operating bases, even of rotational bases, for a hostile navy close to our nation’s shores [note that “could”].”

Strategic concerns

China has become the top trading partner for many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and is second-biggest, behind the US, for the region as a whole. Its trade with the region has risen from $18 billion in 2002 to $180 billion in 2010 and to $450 billion last year [emphasis added].

The region’s largest countries have attracted Chinese investment in agricultural commodities as well as in ecommerce and other technology, including surveillance technology. Smaller, resource-rich countries in Latin America have attracted Chinese interest in mineral wealth and oil exploration.

Chinese firms have also pursued infrastructure projects across the region — many as part of Beijing’s sprawling Belt and Road Initiative — but especially in areas that facilitate access into or around the continent.

Richardson has said the Chinese presence around the Panama Canal and near the Strait of Magellan are her “two greatest concerns, strategically.”

The canal is one of the world’s most important trade corridors, particularly for goods flowing between the US and East Asia. It is “a strategic line of communication that we want to keep free and open for the global economy but also for our global war plans,” Richardson told senators in March.

China has invested billions of dollars in projects around the canal and Chinese state-owned enterprises are present “on either side [emphasis added],” Richardson said. “What I worry about Chinese state-owned enterprises that have capability and infrastructure there is that they can be used for dual use, which means civilian but also military.”

The Strait of Magellan sees less traffic but remains an important route between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, including aircraft carriers too big for the canal, and is close to resource-rich Antarctica. China’s presence in ports and other projects “around the tip of the southern cone” of South America is worrisome [emphasis added], Richardson said…

Richardson’s counterpart at US Northern Command, which is responsible for North America and parts of the Caribbean, has expressed similar concerns. “China’s very aggressive in the Bahamas right now,” Gen. Glen VanHerck told the House Armed Services Committee in April 2021.

“They have the largest embassy in the Bahamas right now, and they continue to buy up [the] tourism industry to have access and influence,” VenHerck said at the time, adding that those Chinese projects “do have access right now to an overwatch, if you will, of our Navy test and training facilities, which is very, very concerning.”..

Chinese military basing in Latin America is still “rather hypothetical” [indeed!] [Margaret] Myers [director of the Asia and Latin America Program at the Inter-American Dialogue] told Insider, “but there’s a sense that based on the sorts of investments that we see in areas of strategic interest to the US and some of the investments that we see in ports with potential dual-use capacity that things are headed in that direction.”..

China will likely “explore what it looks like to establish more significant military relationships in Africa or in the Pacific before they try something like that in the Western Hemisphere [emphasis added] because of how much more likely a strong US reaction would be,” the analyst said, requesting anonymity because of professional commitments.

[Many] Latin American leaders…fear the paternalism that has often characterized US policy toward the region. Many leaders want to avoid taking sides in the competition between Beijing and Washington but welcome Chinese engagement because they see it as offering what the US is unable or unwilling to provide, like expanded trade, coronavirus vaccines, or infrastructure investment.

Richardson often notes that 21 of the 31 countries in Southern Command’s area of responsibility have signed onto China’s Belt and Road Initiative [emphasis added] and told the House Armed Services Committee this spring that several of its multibillion-dollar projects were particularly worrying, among them a $5.6 billion highway in Jamaica and a $3.9 billion metro project in Colombia, a close US ally.

“This region is rich in resources, and the Chinese don’t go there to invest. They go there to extract,” Richardson said of those projects.

At an event in Washington, DC, in April, Jamaica’s prime minister, Andrew Holness, said US concerns about Chinese projects there were “totally unwarranted” and that China has pursued investments in Jamaica for “a long time while the US has been looking all over the place.”

We would want to see more US investment in Jamaica, but Jamaica can’t postpone its development needs until the US decides to come in [emphasis added],” Holness said.

Sergio Guzmán, director of Colombia Risk Analysis, a political risk consultancy, said that when Colombia has issued tenders for infrastructure projects, “US companies are completely AWOL.”

“So how can the US blame Colombia for giving them over to Chinese bidders, who are, by the way, the lowest bidders?” Guzmán told Insider.

The Biden administration’s signature international development effort, Build Back Better World, has foundered, and US private-sector investment has been hard to attract to the region, either because of the overall environment or because the opportunities, particularly infrastructure projects, aren’t well suited for American firms.

“There are efforts to try to increase and incentivize US investment in Latin America and the Caribbean now. The problem is that a lot of these initiatives are private-sector-led,” Myers said, “and in a moment in time when the investment environments aren’t necessarily improving in Latin America, it’s very difficult to generate that interest [emphasis added].”..

Richardson and other officials say the US military’s best asset for engagement is security cooperation — military education, training, and other exchanges that build on the US’s already extensive partnerships in the region [those “partnerships” in the past have not always had happy results for local populations, something they remember]

China’s defense cooperation with Latin American countries “is far less” than that of the US, “but it does exist and the overall trend line has been going up,” Daniel Erikson, deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Western Hemisphere, said at a conference in May…

The PRC in this hemisphere, as in Africa and Asia, is able to take a much longer and coherent approach to executing policies than the US, especially economic ones in light of the Americans’ reliance on the private sector.

Relevant earlier posts:

China: First Africa, Now Latin America [2014]

PRC’s Neo-Colonialism in Africa, Notably Congo (DRC) Section [2021]

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Theme song of sorts, by Canadian band Joe Hall and the Continental Drift–“Nos Hablos Telefonos”:

PM Trudeau’s Government Still Trying to Up-Suck to the Dragon, Ace of Compradors Dominic Barton Section (cont’d)

(Video of foreign minister Joly noted in image at top of the post here, for compradors see here and here.)

Further to this post with two extremely well-informed hard-nose views,

PM Trudeau’s Government Has Finally Banned Huawei. What now?

it would appear the Liberal government remains blinded by the Celestial Empire’s light–and the lure of the filthy yuan. From an excellent and clear-eyed Globe and Mail columnist:

Ottawa may want to go back to business as usual with Beijing. But that’s not possible

Konrad Yakabuski

Canadians hoping for a reset in how this country approaches an increasingly assertive China were likely disappointed to learn that Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly had tapped Dominic Barton to sit on a new committee to advise Ottawa on its long-awaited Indo-Pacific strategy.

Mr. Barton, who served as Canada’s ambassador to China until December, is a self-confessed “bull on China” who now chairs the board of directors for the British-Australian mining colossus Rio Tinto after overseeing the global operations of the consulting giant McKinsey & Co. Like McKinsey, Rio Tinto’s fortunes are deeply tied to the Chinese economy. China accounted for fully 57 per cent of the company’s US$64-billion in revenue in 2021 [see this post: “Dominic Barton, Canadian Prince of Cashing-in Compradors, and Conflict of Interest (note “UPDATE”)“].

The 17 members of the Indo-Pacific Advisory Committee will be required to divulge any conflicts of interest, and “will be expected to recuse themselves from participating in discussions or activities of the committee should any potential, perceived or real conflicts of interest arise,” Global Affairs Canada said in a June 9 press release announcing the committee’s creation.

Even so, Mr. Barton’s past and present business activities are impossible to ignore. He has long advocated for deeper economic relations between China and the West. His decision to accept the Rio Tinto gig even after witnessing firsthand China’s hostage diplomacy in the detention of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig suggests a willingness to look past Beijing’s increasing authoritarianism, militarism and human rights abuses in the name of business [emphasis added].

Mr. Barton’s seat on the new committee along with other notable China doves has left many observers wondering whether Ottawa’s much-vaunted Indo-Pacific strategy, originally pitched as a foreign-policy pivot away from China in the aftermath of the Meng Wanzhou affair, is shaping up to be a cover for a return to business as usual [emphasis added].

“We want to make sure we have a relationship with China,” Ms. Joly told Politico last month. “It is a difficult one – there were arbitrary detentions of the two Michaels … I’m glad that this issue is now over and we’re moving on … My goal is to make sure that we re-establish ties.”

This will no doubt delight many Canadian business leaders eager to seize on the opportunity to sell to a market of more than 1.4 billion people with a growing appetite for this country’s natural resources and agricultural products. But as Canada moves to reset its relations with Beijing, many of our biggest allies are teaming up to take on the greatest geopolitical challenge of the 21st century as China seeks to cement its world power status.

Western hopes that integrating China into the World Trade Organization in 2001 would lead to its democratization were perhaps always faint. But under President Xi Jinping, Beijing has moved in the opposite direction, and has become a threat to the very rules-based international order that enabled it to become the world’s second-largest economy…

“Beijing wants to put itself at the centre of global innovation and manufacturing, increase other countries’ technological dependence, and then use that dependence to impose its foreign policy preferences,” U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last month in a major speech outlining U.S. President Joe Biden’s China policy. “And Beijing is going to great lengths to win this contest – for example, taking advantage of the openness of our economies to spy, to hack, to steal technology and know-how to advance its military innovation and entrench its surveillance state [see this post: “FBI Director on Chi-Spy Menace–and PM Trudeau’s Government?“].”

The Trudeau government is surely not blind to China’s designs. It did – albeit belatedly – decide to ban telecommunications giant Huawei from participating in Canadian 5G networks last month [more here]. But its long delay in making that decision [OVER THREE FLIPPING YEARS] suggests that it did so only reluctantly. And it has not stopped Canadian universities from continuing to accept research funding from Huawei, raising questions about the potential transfer of intellectual property developed here to a company with deep ties to the Chinese military and state [note this post: “Wow! PM Trudeau’s Government Actually Acting vs PRC/PLA Infiltration of Canadian Universities–not so “Wow!” UPDATE (note Australian UPPERDATE)“].

This week, Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson conceded that Ottawa may need to take a tougher stand on investments by Chinese entities in this country’s critical minerals. But again, you don’t get a sense that the move is being made with any gusto. Ottawa’s latest discussion paper on developing a critical minerals strategy does not even mention China, despite that country’s dominance in the global electric-battery supply chain [emphasis added].

No wonder Washington has largely left Canada out of the loop as it builds new security relationships with Australia, Britain, Japan, India and several Indo-Pacific countries with the express aim of containing and countering China’s geopolitical ambitions…

As much as Ottawa seems to wish otherwise, there will be no going back to business as usual with Beijing.

One certainly hopes so. And much as this government wishes otherwise.

A telling paragraph from Terrible Terry Glavin on the reach of our comprador rot:

There’s the intimate connections between the Liberal old guard and the China-trade lobby, notable in former prime minister Jean Chretien’s son-in-law, the Power Corporation’s Andre Desmarais, the Canada-China Business Council’s honorary chairman [the council is Comprador Central, website here]. And of course there’s the daughter of Jean (“I am not a Liberal!”) Charest, currently contending for the job of Conservative Party leader. Amelie Dionne-Charest is the chair of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong [another nest of compradors, website here].

Earlier on Mr Barton:

Canadian Ambassador to PRC Dominic Barton, an Ace of Compradors, still Up-Sucking to the Dragon [2020]

Ace of Compradors Ambassador Dominic Barton gives up Selling the PRC to Canada [Dec. 2021]

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

PM Trudeau’s Government Has Finally Banned Huawei. What now?

Interviews with two serious Canadian experts on the PRC–text from an e-mail from the first-rate Macdonald-Laurier Institute:

1) Canada’s Huawei Ban Comes Amid Heightened Tensions with China

Charles Burton, MLI

The Canadian government punted its Huawei decision for three years to avoid potential retaliation from the Chinese government, and resultingly, argues Burton, Canada is now perceived as an unreliable partner by our allies regarding our engagement with China. QUAD, AUKUS, the IPEF—we haven’t been offered a seat at the table. The CCP will retaliate and its retaliation toolkit is broad-based. Whatever they employ, they will make sure we understand it is because we insulted the Chinese state by not accepting Huawei.

The invasion of Ukraine, which China seemingly supports, as well as sustained tensions, and the potential for conflict over Taiwan, means that Canada must act in concert with other like-minded allies to counter the rise of authoritarian states. There has been mounting pressure for Canada to define its stances on China and Russia. We cannot continue our policies under present circumstances, which amount to appeasement, Burton Says. Canada needs an Indo-Pacific strategy consistent with our allies, make up for decades of policies that are no longer viable, increase our defence allocation, and, most importantly, prepare for conflict.

The interview is here, with video and a synopsis. From the link:

Charles Burton is a Senior Fellow, Macdonald-Laurier Institute, Centre for Advancing Canada’s Interests Abroad and Non-Resident Senior Fellow, European Values Center for Security Policy. Department of Political Science at Brock University specializing in Comparative Politics, Government and Politics of China, Canada-China Relations and Human Rights, 1989-2020. Counsellor at the Canadian Embassy to China between 1991-1993 and 1998-2000. Previously worked at the Communications Security Establishment of the Canadian Department of National Defence.

2) What to Expect Following Canada’s Huawei Ban

Margaret McCuaig-Johnston
ISSP, University of Ottawa

Last month, the federal government announced that Huawei and ZTE will be banned from Canada’s fifth-generation wireless network (5G), citing national security concerns. Despite encouragement from Canada’s Five Eyes partners, the decision to ban Huawei and ZTE still faced significant delays after the two Micheals were released. While the ban has been welcomed by many, there are still significant security concerns to consider in the near-term.

McCuiag-Johnston places particular emphasis on the challenges created by allowing companies and carriers until June 2024 to replace their 5G equipment. Telus has installed a large amount of Huawei software and hardware over the past two years, which means that Canada will have four years of exposure to the national security risk that we have been concerned about all along. Ultimately, de-installing Huawei will require constant updates and fixes to installed 5G equipment via backdoors. These are the very backdoors that could potentially be used for intelligence gathering purposes. Johnston applauds the Huawei decision but emphasizes that the government must not budge on removal deadline it has given to Canadian telecoms.

The interview is here, with video and a synopsis. From the link:

Margaret McCuaig-Johnston  is a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Science, Society and Policy, Senior Fellow with the University of Alberta’s China Institute and Distinguished Fellow with the Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada. Formerly, she was Executive Vice-President at NSERC where she was responsible for strategic operations, including research policy and international relations. She was also a member for seven years of the Steering Committee for the Canada-China Science and Technology (S&T) Initiative.

These two are hard-nosed types about the PRC’s realities and dealing with the CCP. Do have a look.

Related posts:

FBI Director on Chi-Spy Menace–and PM Trudeau’s Government?

Will Anyone in PM Trudeau’s Cabinet Bother to Read Joanna Chiu’s Book on the PRC?

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

What a Twist of Fate if Airbus Helps Kill Bombardier as a Bizjet-Maker…

…with a bizjet version of the A220 airliner that Bombardier created. Airbus is looking to break into the long-range business net market big-time with a bizjet version of the A220 (once upon a time the Bombardier CSeries; the Canadian company now just makes bizjets, see latter part of this post: “Bombardier to Build New Plant for Bizjets at Toronto…”). Start of an article at Aviation Week and Space Technology:

ACJ Eyes Long-Range Bizjet Market As TwoTwenty Nears Entry To Service

Angus Batey

In the high-end bizliner market, 10 or 12 sales would qualify as a good year for a manufacturer. So, when Benoit Defforge, president of Airbus Corporate Jets, says he expects to be able to sell 10 of just one model of aircraft in a calendar year—without cutting into sales across the rest of its range—it is clear that the company believes it has a hit on its hands.

The aircraft that has got Dafforge and his colleagues at ACJ so excited is the ACJ TwoTwenty. And the reason for their bullish perspective on the likely market—for a jet which, as yet, has not been delivered in a business configuration—is threefold. “Between the budget, the space and the range, this aircraft is at the sweet spot,” he says.

The bizliner [versions of airliners used for private business purposes] territory that is traditionally fought over by ACJ and their colleagues at rival Boeing amounts to, Airbus reckons, about 400 in-service aircraft. 

“It’s interesting,” Defforge says. “It’s a niche market. It’s the high end of our market. But it’s a limited market. But if we go to the high end of the traditional business-jet market, it’s more than 2,000 aircraft. And we are addressing this market with the TwoTwenty.”..

Read on. The Airbus webpage for the plane is here.

Meanwhile Bombardier fires back for the high-end bizjet market, good luck:

Bombardier launches latest ultra-long range business jet Global 8000

Eric Martel, CEO of private jet maker Bombardier, attends the launch of the Global 8000 aircraft during the European Business Aviation Convention & Exhibition in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 23.DENIS BALIBOUSE/Reuters

Bombardier Inc BBD-B-T -5.79% decrease launched a new long-range business jet on Monday [May 23], as it looks to stay competitive in a market that serves the ultra-rich and has remained robust amid COVID-19 driven boom in demand for private aircraft.

The Montreal-based planemaker said the Global 8000 will become the world’s fastest business jet with an ultra-long range of 8,000 nautical miles (9,206 miles) and a top speed of Mach 0.94 (721 miles per hour).

The plane will enter service in 2025 and compete with high-end models offered by rivals General Dynamics and France’s Dassault Aviation – the Gulfstream G700 and Falcon 10X, respectively [and now the ACJ TwoTwenty?].

Bombardier said the Global 8000 will have a list price of $78 million, slightly higher than the $75 million which its predecessor and the company’s flagship Global 7500 lists for. Both rivals, the G700 and the Falcon 10X, are also priced at $75 million…

Looks like another derivative from an existing aircraft, a usual Bombardier approach. But how much longer? A relevant post from October 2021-

How long can Bombardier go on without Government Subsidies to Develop a new Bizjet? Or a Takeover?

UPDATE: Yep, new Bombardier just another update–also at Aviation Week and Space Technology:

An upgrade on the Global 7500, the Global 8000 will use the same fuselage as its predecessor, which it will eventually come to replace…

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

Theme song:

No Realistic Prospect of Canadian LNG Supplies to EU–and PM Trudeau’s Gov’t Likes it That Way

(Caption for photo at top of the post: “An LNG tanker is guided by tug boats at the Cheniere Sabine Pass LNG export unit in Cameron Parish, La., on April 14, 2022.”)

Further to this February post,

Odds on Canadian LNG some Day for Germany/EU?

the answer still looks like very poor, in the face of current federal government’s apathy, if not downright (covert) hostility. From the Globe and Mail:

Natural-gas prices under pressure from soaring U.S. demand

Brent Jang

U.S. natural-gas prices have hit their highest level in 14 years as North American producers scramble to replenish supplies with demand soaring and storage levels declining.

As Europe seeks to reduce its energy dependence on Russia, the United States has been increasing its exports of liquefied natural gas to European markets. U.S. spot prices have almost tripled over the past year, spiking even higher after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

“Europe is very hungry for natural gas, especially since they have to displace Russian gas,” said Darren Gee, chief executive officer at Calgary-based Peyto Exploration and Development Corp…

The United States, the world’s largest producer of natural gas, edged out Qatar and Australia earlier this year to become the planet’s biggest exporter of LNG.

Demand for natural gas is expected to continue rising in the years ahead in North America, with the fuel going to additional LNG export terminals in the United States and the first one set to open in Canada.LNG Canada’s $18-billion terminal is under construction in Kitimat, B.C., with the goal to begin exports to Asia in 2025 in what would be Canada’s first site for shipping the fuel on ocean-bound LNG vessels…

On the East Coast, Pieridae Energy Ltd. is hoping its much-delayed Goldboro LNG project in Nova Scotia will finally forge ahead with construction within a year and begin exporting LNG to Europe in 2027 [see post noted at start of this one].

Industry analysts say East Coast proposals hinge largely on whether the federal government intervenes and provides incentives for TC Energy Corp. to upgrade and expand its pipeline system in Ontario and Quebec, in order to make it possible to transport sufficient amounts of natural gas from Alberta to the East Coast.

Canada is the world’s sixth-largest natural-gas producer, yet LNG proposals are stalled. Pieridae CEO Alfred Sorensen said Ottawa could help speed up the regulatory process on the pipeline side. “The federal government has to do something to convince TC Energy,” Mr. Sorensen said.

But the federal government has indicated that it’s up to LNG proponents to figure out ways to overcome pipeline constraints [emphasis added].

“Project investment decisions will be made by proponents based on their ability to comply with federal and provincial regulatory standards while competing within the global market,” said Ian Cameron, director of communications for Jonathan Wilkinson, the federal Natural Resources Minister.

Follow Brent Jang on Twitter: @brentcjang

Pitiful eco-warriors in in-action. Relevant tweets:

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds

The EV Revolution is Delayed

Further to this March post,

Mining Minerals in Northern Ontario (if these projects even happen) Has Little to Do with Battery, Electric Vehicle Production in the Province

here’s some nasty news for the EV dreams of PM Trudeau and Ontario Premier Ford–and of President Biden. From an opinion piece by the Globe and Mail’s excellent man in Rome:

So much for the electric vehicle revolution. You cannot make the machines without the metals that power them

Eric Reguly European bureau chief Rome

Any successful politician is adept at finding the one bit of good news floating in the ocean of despair, then gushing about it to try to drown our worries.

So it is with U.S. President Joe Biden. A few weeks ago, when the war in Ukraine was propelling gasoline and diesel prices ever higher – regular gas hit a record average of US$4.43 a gallon on Friday – he suggested that painful pump prices will speed the transition to electric vehicles (EVs), fear not.

Voila – no more hard decisions about filling your SUV or feeding your kids. “Transforming our economy to run on electric vehicles, powered by clean energy, will mean that no one will have to worry about gas prices,” he said on Twitter. “It will mean tyrants like Putin won’t be able to use fossil fuels as a weapon.”

Nice idea, except for one minor inconvenience: Gas and diesel aren’t the only commodities turning into luxury goods.

Most of the metals that go into EVs and their massive batteries – copper, nickel, cobalt [see this post: “Congo’s Cobalt Key to PRC’s Grasp for EV Dominance“], lithium [see this post: Lithium and Batteries for EVs look like just another Canadian Hi-Tech Pipedream”], plus a variety of rare earth metals – have climbed even faster than pump prices because they are in exceedingly short supply and high demand. Cobalt two years ago went for US$15 a pound; today it’s US$40. Lithium carbonate prices have climbed about 600 per cent in the same period.

The metals’ scarcity means that the endlessly touted EV revolution will almost certainly be delayed, perhaps long delayed, barring the invention of batteries that use far less of these crucial metals, or none at all [emphasis added]. Ditto then green revolution in general, for many of these same metals go into wind turbines and solar panels…

Already, Tesla boss and co-founder Elon Musk is screaming about excruciating metals prices while quietly jacking up the prices of Tesla cars to make them even less affordable for the average family. According to the Wall Street Journal, the average price of a Tesla is US$52,200, up almost 3 per cent since late 2021 [emphasis added]

Mr. Musk has been a lot smarter than most auto executives in protecting supply chains. As far back as 2020, just before the price charts went vertical, he realized that shortages could translate into production and profit-margin squeezes. He negotiated a cobalt supply deal with Glencore, the world’s biggest producer of the metal that is essential for battery production. No more middleman.

General Motors and BMW recently did similar deals with Glencore, through presumably at a much higher price. Tesla is now trying to replicate the process with nickel producers.

In March, Volkswagen announced a joint venture with two Chinese companies to secure nickel and cobalt supplies from Indonesia. The deal thrusts VW into the mining industry, taking a page from the supply chain strategy created by Henry Ford a century ago [emphasis added]. Mr. Ford was so obsessed with security of supply that he bought coal mines, timberlands, sawmills, a railroad and a fleet of freighters to make sure iron ore and other materials would reach his factories.

…While the in-ground reserves of some metals are genuinely in short supply, such as copper, others, notably lithium, are blessed with generous reserves on several continents. But that’s not the point. The point is that building mines to extract the lithium, and plants to process it, can take five to 10 years. Cobalt mines can taken longer [emphasis added]

Every big automaker in the world is ramping up EV production. Forecasts say that tens of millions of these cars will be produced each year by the middle part of this decade. Maybe not. In the United States alone, about 13 lithium-ion plants are in the construction or planning stages – but what is not known is where the lithium will come from. There is only one operating lithium mine in the U.S. European and Japanese carmakers face similar supply constraints.

The EV revolution is beginning to look like an evolution. EVs are coming, but not at pedal-to-the-metal speeds.

Follow Eric Reguly on Twitter: @ereguly

And a very relevant recent post (note that Ontario is finally getting, with big federal and provincial subsidies, a battery production plant)–but consumers too still will have to pay to play with Ontario-assembled EVs:

Feds’ and Ontario’s EV Dream: Pay to Play

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Biden’s “Buy American” Bad for Bigger US Defence Picture

From a piece at Breaking Defence, see end of post for the current situation regarding Canada:

How Biden’s ‘Buy American’ is undermining the arsenal of democracy

Responding to America’s protectionist policies, allies write new letter to White House pushing for waivers, according to a new op-ed from AEI’s Bill Greenwalt and Dustin Walker.

By   Bill Greenwalt and Dustin Walker on May 03, 2022 at 9:44 AM

In an effort to boost the US economy, President Joe Biden has pushed a broad “Buy American” agenda. But AEI’s Bill Greenwalt and Dustin Walker argue in the op-ed below that the White House is pushing away the defense industrial base of friendly nations, threatening to harm not only America’s relationships abroad at a crucial time, but its own military readiness.

The arsenal of democracy is making a comeback. As it did in past moments of global crisis, the United States is arming a sovereign nation in its struggle for survival against the depredations of a dictator. But it is not doing so alone.

In the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the US is coordinating with its allies and partners on the urgent production, modification, donation and delivery of military equipment from across the world to Ukraine. It is working to rapidly replace equipment donated from its own inventory as well as those of its allies and partners. As many European nations consider increasing defense spending in future years, the US is helping lead discussions on how best to bolster capabilities needed to deter and defend against Russian aggression. And it is attempting to glean lessons from the war in Ukraine to prepare itself, as well as allies and partners such as Taiwan, for the possibility of Chinese aggression. This new arsenal of democracy is a multinational effort.

Yet at a decisive moment in the war in Ukraine when defense industrial cooperation with America’s allies and partners has never been more vital, the Biden administration is moving in the opposite direction. The so-called “Buy American” regulations will harm relationships with America’s friends, risk American jobs and leave America’s military less prepared for the challenges posed by Russia and China [emphasis added].

With certain exceptions, the Buy American Act requires the federal government to buy domestic “articles, materials, and supplies,” when they are acquired for public use. In March, one week after Russia invaded Ukraine, the Biden administration finalized a new regulation requiring that 75% of the cost of products procured by the US government be made up of domestic components by 2029. That’s up from the 55% today.

In other words, despite its rhetoric, the Biden administration is cutting back defense industrial cooperation with allies and partners in the middle of a war in Europe. The concern is so great that allied nations have written a new letter [PDF] to the White House, pleading for more critical exemptions [emphasis added, as noted at start of the post see below for Canada].

The primary impact of this new regulation will be on defense. While the Buy American Act theoretically applies to all federal government purchases, in practice it most directly affects defense purchases, which do not receive the same broad exemptions as commercial goods do under World Trade Organization agreements and US free trade agreements such as the United States-Canada-Mexico Agreement (USMCA).

The Biden administration and proponents of so-called “Buy American” regulations claim they will help grow America’s defense industrial base and create more defense jobs. They will do neither. The Biden administration’s new regulation will aggravate relations with allies and partners and, over the long term, shrink the global market for US defense products [emphasis added].

Allies Call For Help

Last year, a group of military attaches representing 25 nations including the United Kingdom, France, and Germany wrote to lawmakers opposing an increased domestic content threshold under the Buy American Act. The Biden administration didn’t listen. As a result, just as many European nations are pledging significant annual increases in defense spending, Europe’s protectionists will need only parrot the Biden administration to argue that new resources should be spent to buy European products — not American products.

If Washington doesn’t “buy allied,” why should London, Paris, or Berlin “buy American”? For that matter, why should Seoul or Tokyo [emphasis added]?

Supporters of so-called “Buy American” regulations point out that some allies and partners have negotiated Reciprocal Defense Procurement (RDP) agreements [Canada below], which provide some exemption from the Buy American Act. However, 10 NATO states do not have these agreements. Nor do key Indo-Pacific allies and partners such as South Korea, Taiwan, India and Singapore. For those that do, the impact of these agreements is limited. RDP agreements do not guarantee allied participation in US defense programs. The opportunity to do so is often stymied by an intricate web of laws and regulations, as well as by a cultural hubris that finds it hard to admit that allied technology could ever be any good.

Still, even what constrained value these agreements do provide is at risk. Congressional supporters of so-called “Buy American” policies have passed multiple bills, including the recent bipartisan infrastructure law, pushing the last two administrations to limit the application of RDP agreements and reduce waivers and exemptions [emphasis added]. In an April 25 letter to OMB, the same group of allies that opposed the higher domestic content threshold in the first place are now pleading with the administration to preserve an “allied” exemption.

Will the Biden administration ignore allies and partners yet again?

‘Buy American’ Makes It Harder To Do Business

Beyond the risk to American jobs, so-called “Buy American” regulations will endanger national security by making it harder for the US military to access the capability and capacity it needs to stay ahead of Russia and China.

These regulations will shrink the number of defense suppliers willing to do business with the Pentagon, both at home and abroad, potentially choking off the US military’s access to critical technology. In order to prove they are meeting the Biden administration’s higher domestic content threshold, companies will be required to produce complex and expensive compliance documentation to the government [emphasis added. For those US companies that sell exclusively or primarily to the government, they will have no choice but to shoulder this enormous paperwork burden while passing the cost of compliance on to taxpayers.

But many other companies have a choice of whether to do business with the government, which is not their only or even primary customer. That’s especially true of innovative companies leading the way in emerging technologies in the commercial sector—technologies our warfighters need to stay ahead of Russia and China. These American companies may very well conclude that complying with so-called “Buy American regulations—not only through administrivia, but potentially by changing the content of their products—just isn’t worth the hassle [emphasis added].

… the Biden administration’s protectionist regulations will increase costs for taxpayers by reducing incentives for US allies and partners to buy US defense equipment, particularly countries with substantial defense industries of their own…

The US defense industrial base is currently too small to produce enough military equipment to meet the US military’s needs, particularly when it comes to ships and critical munitions. For example, it will take years to replace US Javelins and Stingers supplied to Ukraine. Allies and partners can help plug this gap, which is especially dangerous in light of China’s vast and growing defense production capacity.

How Biden Can Help The US Defense Industrial Base [here comes some special pleading]

…it’s time to invest in growing the defense industrial base to meet the needs of the US military as well as those of its allies and partners. Legislation proposed by Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., to provide $25 billion to modernize and expand America’s public and private shipyards is a good start. Similar legislation will likely be needed for munitions production not only to replace munitions sent to Ukraine but to ensure sufficient munitions stocks for the Indo-Pacific.

Finally, instead of making it harder to work with allies, the Biden administration could focus on eliminating our adversaries from our defense supply chain. China, for example, sells commercial dual use component parts that often find their way into US military systems and will not be restricted under the new Biden “Buy American” thresholds. These Chinese semiconductors, electronics, IT services and telecommunications—even in small amounts—are rightful targets of regulatory scrutiny and should be replaced through a targeted “buy allied” strategy [emphasis added]

China and Russia are no match for the combined technological and industrial might of the United States and its allies and partners. But we cannot marshal that collective power by indulging saccharine, populist schemes. Only in concert with allies and partners can America realize aspirations for a 21st century arsenal of democracy.

Bill Greenwalt, long the top Republican acquisition policy expert on the SASC, rose to become deputy defense undersecretary for industrial policy. A member of the Breaking Defense Board of Contributors, he’s now a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Dustin Walker is a non-Resident Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a former professional staff member on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

As for Canada, this is from the federal government’s government-to-government contracting organization, the Canadian Commercial Corporation:

About Buy American and Exemptions for Canadian Businesses

Written by The CCC Team | February 21, 2022 at 8:00 AM

The Canada-U.S. Defence Production Sharing Agreement (DPSA [from 1963!]) gives Canadian companies access to U.S. DoD procurement opportunities.

Currently, the US government waives Buy American requirements for long-standing DoD bilateral reciprocal defence procurement agreements, such as the DPSA, as well as duty and fees on Canadian exports to the U.S. DoD…

Under the Canada-U.S. Defence Production Sharing Agreement (DPSA), Canadian companies have almost full access to the world’s largest military procurement market.

CCC is embedded in the U.S. Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement 225.870 (DFARS) to act as the prime contractor for Canadian exporters awarded U.S. DoD contracts over USD $250,000.The CCC has spent the last 65 years working closely with the U.S. DoD to connect American military needs with Canadian solutions.

If you’re a Canadian defence company looking to sell to the U.S., check out our step-by-step Guide to U.S DoD Market Entry and take the first steps toward doing business with the U.S. DoD.   

One hopes all that will continue. On verra. But note that the CCC only deals with the US government; what may be happening with company-to-company business? More here on the DPSA.

Meanwhile our Chief of the Defence Staff says this:

Canada’s top soldier says defence industry needs to ramp up production to ‘wartime footing

Problem is our industry doesn’t produce much in the way of finished defence equipment to “ramp up”, rather mainly components for foreign-made equipment (Pratt and Whitney Canada aeroengines are a top-end example of that–here’s an interesting story from 2012). Sometime in the early 2030s (see “4. Implementation” here) Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax will start producing new frigates for the Royal Canadian Navy; our perishingly slow shipbuilding industry is the least likely one able to “ramp up” anything.

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Feds’ and Ontario’s EV Dream: Pay to Play

(Photo at top of the post is of 2022 Lincoln Aviator large SUV–see just after main quote for coming Canadian angle–current cheapest internal combustion engine version US$ $51,465.)

This is encouraging but at the price of some $500 million from each of the players (and the cost of these bribes to the companies keeps mounting up). Note that only one fully electric vehicle is promised at this time from the two Stellantis assembly plants. From a Globe and Mail story (note that second reporter):

Stellantis announces $3.6-billion retool of Ontario plants to make electric and hybrid-fuel vehicles

Eric Atkins Transportation Reporter

Kathryn Blaze Baum Environment Reporter

Published May 2, 2022

Stellantis [formerly Chrysler, Fiat, Peugeot etc.] says it will spend $3.6-billion to retool its Ontario plants to make zero-emissions vehicles [only one so far, see last para of main quote] – the latest announcement from an automaker aimed at hastening the Canadian auto sector’s shift away from internal combustion engines.

With up to $1-billion in funding from the federal and Ontario governments, Stellantis plans to refit its Windsor and Brampton plants to make hybrid or electric cars and expand to three shifts a day. The automaker said it will also build its first North American battery lab in Windsor…

Mark Stewart, Stellantis North America’s chief operating officer, said the move supports the company’s global push to offer 25 electric vehicles that will account for 53 per cent of sales by 2030. The automaker is spending $45-billion through 2025 as it races with rivals to meet consumer demand and government limits on greenhouse gas emissions…

The Canadian auto sector is in the midst of an electric evolution. In March, the federal and provincial governments said they would give hundreds of millions of dollars to Stellantis and LG Energy Solution for a $5-billion plant in Windsor that will make batteries for electric vehicles. The investment is the largest in the history of Canada’s auto industry.

Other automakers in Canada are gearing up for an electrified future, too. Ford Motor Co. plans to produce electric cars at its Oakville, Ont., factory by 2024, with a $1.8-billion investment that includes $580-million in taxpayer money [see below after the main quote]. By December, General Motors is set to begin making the electric cargo van the BrightDrop EV600 at its retooled plant in Ingersoll, Ont [no mass-market consumer vehicle, see this post: “Ontario Finally Gets an EV Plant (with nice subsidies from feds and the province)…“]

GM and POSCO Chemicals are also building a factory in Bécancour, Que., that will make material for the batteries that power GM’s electric lineup [no certainty those batteries will be made in Canada, see this post: “Quebec, Canada Gets Plant to Make Low-Hanging Fruit in Batteries/EV Supply Chain“]. This includes the Chevrolet Silverado EV, GMC Hummer EV and Cadillac Lyriq.

While…[Joanna Kyriazis, a senior policy adviser at Clean Energy Canada, “a climate and clean energy program within the Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University] welcomed Stellantis’ latest announcement, she said she would have liked to see the automaker commit to a vision for its Ontario plants focused squarely on electric vehicles [emphasis added] rather than moving toward what Stellantis called a “flexible multienergy vehicle architecture.”..

Despite pushback from automakers, the government said it will ramp up its ambitions when it comes to sales mandates for zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), including by introducing a new short-term target of 20 per cent of all light-duty vehicle sales by 2026. That will climb to 60 per cent in 2030 and 100 per cent in 2035. The government said it wants to see ZEVs make up 35 per cent of medium- and heavy-duty vehicle sales by 2030.

In Canada, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles and battery electric vehicles made up 6.2 per cent of new vehicle registrations in the fourth quarter of 2021, up from 4 per cent in the same period in 2020 and 2.9 per cent in the same period in 2019…

Mr. Stewart of Stellantis said the minivan plant in Windsor will be retooled in 2023 to make “multienergy” vehicle components for several models [i.e. no vehicles itself]. The Brampton plant, which currently builds muscle cars, will be refit to make electric components and one electric vehicle [emphasis added, note that “one”]. Mr. Stewart said it is too early to say which vehicles will be made in Ontario.

As for Ford, this is what I’ve found about its product plans:

Lincoln to launch full slate of electric SUVs by 2026: sources

The luxury automaker’s EV revolution may begin late 2024 with a battery-powered crossover built in Oakville, Ontario

Author of the article:

Paul Lienert,  Reuters

Publishing date: Feb 11, 2022

Ford is stepping up plans to extensively electrify its Lincoln brand in North America, as it prepares to introduce at least five new battery-powered Lincoln sport-utility vehicles through 2026, three people familiar with the plans told Reuters…

The first of the new Lincoln EVs, a large crossover about the size of the Aviator, is slated to begin production in late 2024 or early 2025 at Ford’s Oakville, Ontario, plant [emphasis added, not exactly a mass-market vehicle, almost all likely to be sold in US, note photo at top of the post], as part of a US$1.5-billion changeover there from combustion-engine to battery electric vehicles, two of the sources said, citing the automaker’s plans shared with suppliers.

Several more Lincoln EV crossovers, including potential replacements for the compact Corsair and the mid-size Nautilus, could be built in Oakville in 2025 or 2026, said the two sources [note that “could”, how much more government bribe money needed?], who cited internal planning documents. Production plans for those models have not been finalized…

Meanwhile Honda and Toyota have only committed to assemble hybrid vehicles in Ontario (luxury ones by the latter), not fully electric ones– but a plug-in version of the Toyota will be made. As for Honda:

Sorting the EVs from the hype in Honda’s $1.38-billion CR-V Hybrid assembly plant announcement

Is Honda Canada’s retooling of its Alliston, Ont., manufacturing plant to build a new hybrid crossover really a step forward for electric and zero emission vehicle manufacturing in Canada? It depends on what comes next

…one important detail can’t be overlooked — the hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) they’ll be making at Alliston, the Honda CR-V Hybrid, only has one fuel source: gasoline. It won’t have a plug to enable it to draw power from the electrical grid and is not zero emission [emphasis added].

The only way this announcement is truly about EVs, say industry observers, is if the current retooling paves the way for Honda to bring future plug-in hybrid (PHEV) or battery electric vehicle (EV) production to this location…

Thus, after all the sound and fury, the companies have so far committed to making the following EV types in Ontario: one unspecified vehicle (Stellantis) and one commercial van (GM). One luxury SUV seems likely to follow (Ford). There’s not going to be a very large share of the overall North American EV market for those three, and certainly a tiny one in Canada. One expects there will a lot more bang coming for all those billion of bucks from Canadian taxpayers. And that Honda and Toyota move smartly to EV assembly here if the province is to gain a place as major player in the EV auto assembly game.

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Canadian Imports from PRC: Uyghurs’ Forced Labour? What Forced Labour? Or, See No Evil (note UPDATE)

PM Trudeau’s government is basically saying “who really cares?” as it takes an essentially hands-off approach.

Further to this November 2022 post,

PM Trudeau’s Government takes Baby Step to deal with Products of Uyghurs’ Forced Labour (note UPDATE)

extracts from a story at the Globe and Mail:

Canada lags U.S. in intercepting imports made with forced labour

Steven Chase Senior parliamentary reporter

Canada is lagging the United States in intercepting imports made with forced labour, as Ottawa struggles to implement a commitment to do so in the renegotiated NAFTA deal.

In the last 21 months, Canada’s border guards have only seized one shipment suspected of being manufactured under coercive conditions [emphasis added]. Intercepted in Quebec, the October shipment was of women’s and children’s clothing from China. Trade experts say Canada does not appear to be prioritizing its agreement to bar such shipments.

Ottawa amended the Customs Tariff Act on July 1, 2020, to prohibit forced-labour imports in keeping with a pledge made under the United States Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the trade deal that replaced the North American free-trade agreement.

In comparison to Canada’s single seizure, U.S. border guards have intercepted more than 1,300 shipments from China that are believed to have been made with coerced labour over the same period [emphasis added, just as we have–most unlike the US–for years charged no-one with actual espionage on behalf of the PRC], according to data provided by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The seizure is estimated to amount to a combined value of US$209-million.

*Canadian watchdog asked to probe allegations that imports made with forced labour in China [April 2022]

Trade experts say stark difference in interceptions between Canada and the U.S. cannot be accounted for merely by the far larger volume of trade between the United States and other countries such as China. They say Canada’s slim record is an indication that Ottawa is not doing as much as it could to crack down on forced labour imports because of a lack of investment in enforcement and intelligence-gathering [emphasis added]– despite a commitment from the federal government as recently as January, 2021, to get serious on the matter.

The CBP’s seizure of forced-labour goods since USMCA took effect includes 811 shipments of cotton and tomato products from China’s troubled Xinjiang region as well as 511 shipments of products made by Hoshine Silicon Industry Co. Ltd., a company located in Xinjiang that produces a key material for solar panels…

Michael Nesbitt, a University of Calgary law professor who previously worked in the federal government’s sanctions division, said Canada does not appear to be making the effort needed to identify and detain imports of goods made with forced labour.

…he said Canada puts a heavy burden on the private sector to determine for themselves if their shipments are made with forced labour “while seemingly doing little to undermine or prosecute the bad actors that take active steps to avoid detection.”

Canada Border Services Agency spokesperson Rebecca Purdy said “Canada is still in the early stages of implementing the forced-labour prohibition,”..

Plus, Ms. Purdy said, last year Americans enshrined in law a reverse-onus rule that puts the responsibility on those shipping goods from Xinjiang to prove these items are free of coerced labour. That means the U.S. government officially regards all goods “produced in whole or in part” in Xinjiang as produced with forced labour and “therefore prohibited from importation.”

Meanwhile, in Canada, CBSA officers require evidence that imports are tainted by slave or prison labour and do not have the authority to deem goods as prohibited. That means they are required to treat shipments “on a case-by-case basis, based on the available information at the time of entry.”..

Excuses. Excuses. Excuses.

UPDATE: One gives up. Even that one seized shipment let into Canada. This government is totally unserious:

Posts for further background:

The PRC’s Vanishing Uyghurs

PRC’s Push for Han Baby-Making in Xinjiang, whilst Suppressing Uyghur Births

Mark Collins

Twitter: @Mark3ds

Gorgeous Gerhard’s Embrace of Bad Vlad

Further to this post,

A Tale of Two Chancellors: Schröder’s and Merkel’s Addiction to Russian Natural Gas and Oil

a follow-up piece by the NY Times‘ Berlin bureau chief to a recent story of hers, note the first sentence after the authorship:

Two Interviews, No Regrets: Talking About Putin’s Russia With a Former German Chancellor

After Gerhard Schröder spoke to The Times, he could be kicked out of his party and cut off from some tax-financed perks he enjoys as former chancellor.

By Katrin Bennhold

The first thing you notice when you walk into the office of Gerhard Schröder is the striking abundance of pictures of Gerhard Schröder.

A large painting of a younger Schröder behind the desk. An even larger painting of an even younger Schröder next to the door. A black-and-white photo portrait. A stylized art print. A smattering of colorful cartoons featuring him as the fist-banging, swaggering, “basta”-shouting chancellor he once was.

I was writing an article about how Germany got hooked on Russian gas over the past two decades and wanted to speak to Mr. Schröder, the man who popped up nearly every step of the way: as German chancellor from 1998-2005, as a lobbyist for Russian-controlled energy companies since then and as the personal friend of President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia throughout.

Mr. Schröder had not talked to any media outlet since the war in Ukraine started — and with it, the almost universal outrage at his refusal to distance himself from Mr. Putin and resign from his lucrative positions for the gas pipeline operator Nord Stream and the Russian oil company Rosneft. But after weeks of back and forth, I was invited to meet him in his home city, Hanover, for our first conversation on April 11.

He and his wife greeted me in matching forest green pantsuits. I remarked on them.

“Coincidence,” the former chancellor grumbled.

“Green is the color of hope,” his (fifth) wife, Soyeon Schröder-Kim, beamed. She was a constant presence.

We sat down at the corner of a large glass table, a statue of former chancellor Willy Brandt — a Social Democrat like Mr. Schröder and the architect of Ostpolitik, Germany’s engagement policy toward the Soviet Union about half a century ago — watching over us.

From the start, it was clear that Mr. Schröder wanted to talk, to explain himself, to tell his country why he was right — and everyone else wrong — to resist calls to condemn Mr. Putin [emphasis added].

“I know you’re here to talk about the past,” he said, as he handed me a pile of notes about his recent, and fruitless, effort to mediate between Moscow and Kyiv. “But I’d also like to talk about the present.”

So we talked. I was allowed to record. And I was surprised by how frankly Mr. Schröder spoke.Unlike many German politicians, he readily accepted the ground rules of The New York Times: He would not get to “authorize” any quotes before publication. Since we spoke German throughout, I offered to show him my English translations — his wife, a trained translator, had expressed concerns about “translation mistakes” — but I also made clear that we would not accept edits that altered the meaning of the quote.

None were asked for.

Three days after our first conversation, I returned to Hanover with the photographer Laetitia Vancon. We had another conversation, which ended with a lunch of seasonal asparagus and two bottles of white wine. (His wife brought out one but he demanded a second — we were four people after all.)

Why The New York Times?” I asked him at one point, curious why he had not picked a German newspaper to break his silence.

“The New York Times admitted that it was wrong over the Iraq war; I respect that [emphasis added],” he told me and smiled. The implication was clear: He had been right, famously keeping Germany out of the war. (In a 2004 assessment of the publication’s reporting on the lead-up to, and the early stages of, the Iraq War, Times editors found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been.)

So if it was right to admit past mistakes, was there anything he had gotten wrong over Russia?

“No,” he said defiantly [emphasis added], insisting that on energy, Russian and German interests were aligned.

But, I pressed him: His good friend Vladimir had started a war and was accused of ordering war crimes. How did that feel? Did it feel right to stay loyal to him?

It was the only time he got annoyed.

“We’re not doing a psychologizing interview here,” he said, raising his voice. “Then we’ll leave it there.”

I shifted the conversation back to the war, which he condemned but also qualified.

“We have this situation, which I have to say is not just one-sided,” he said.

I had heard this a lot in Germany — “it’s not one-sided” — not least among my own parents’ friends. The idea that NATO had been cornering Russia after the reunification of Germany and Europe was not all that uncommon in Germany before the war.

Even now, with fighting raging, some of Mr. Schröder’s views, about the need to give Mr. Putin a way to save face, are openly voiced [emphasis added]. My ophthalmologist recently told me, “Let’s give him what he needs, for God’s sake, so we can end this war.”

Germany’s relationship with Russia is complicated, rooted both in centuries of cultural exchange and a traumatic history of war, which contributed to a Russia policy that has alternately been described as romantic blindness or open-eyed appeasement.

In Mr. Schröder’s office, prominently framed, is a birthday letter from the revered former chancellor Helmut Schmidt, another Social Democrat, dated April 4, 2014, less than two months after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, praising Mr. Schröder’s legacy as chancellor, not least for “demonstrating understanding of the needs of our powerful neighbor Russia.”

The day before my article came out, I had one last phone call with Mr. Schröder to run through some factual questions. Before we hung up, I told him that this would not be a puff piece.

“You can be critical as long as you’re fair,” he said.

When the article was published online on April 23, it was picked up by every major German news outlet. The reactions were swift.

“The interview in The New York Times is pretty disturbing and it has to have consequences,” said Hendrik Wüst, a conservative governor of Germany’s most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia, urging the Social Democrats to kick the former chancellor out of their party.

The co-leader of the Social Democrats, Saskia Esken, called on Mr. Schröder to hand in his membership and said 14 local party chapters had filed for his expulsion. “Gerhard Schröder has been acting as a business man,” she said when asked about my interview. “We should stop thinking of him as an elder statesman, as a former chancellor.”

Politicians from across the political spectrum demanded that Mr. Schröder be put on the sanctions list and cut off from the tax-funded pension and perks former chancellors enjoy. (Only the far-right Alternative for Germany party applauded his defiance as “responsible and in the German interest.”)

I was inundated with messages. But I did not hear from Mr. Schröder until the day after the interview published. A WhatsApp message arrived from his wife with a polite request: “Could you send 2 copies to our office. In Hanover there is no Sunday edition of The NYT.”

Just another journalist with a major reporting function making it clear what her opinions are. Sigh.

Mark Collins

Twitter: @mark3ds