Exclusive: Will right-leaning AfD party oppose on support China? And Dexit?

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The German federal election of 2021 ended on September 26. The Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) became the majority party with 25.7% of the vote, replacing the Union parties (Christian Democratic Union of Germany and Christian Social Union in Bavaria), which received only 24.1% of the vote. In comparison, the Green Party and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) received 14.7% and 11.5% of the vote, respectively, ranking third and fourth. The Alternative for Germany (AfD), a relatively right-wing party which formerly had 12.6% of the vote, received only 10.5% of the vote this time. After the election, Eat News exclusively interviewed AfD MP Jürgen Braun and asked him some tough questions.

AfD: We’re not neo-Nazis, we’re neo-conservatives

According to an analysis by Singapore’s digital Initium Media, the AfD has positioned itself as an anti-EU party, unlike the policies and positions of other parties in Germany. Its anti-euro bailout platform has attracted many voters who are skeptical of the EU and the euro. As a right-wing party, the AfD began to attract voters who were disillusioned with the Union parties coalition. Their supporters range from conservatives to young people from small, declining towns to typical middle class living in the cities. They all agree that life in Germany under Angela Merkel has become worse than ever.

Although the AfD has lost seats in the German Bundestag, they have maintained a majority in Saxony which they have held sine 2017. In eastern Germany, they have also expanded to the Free State of Thuringia, becoming the majority party in both states, with 24.6% in Saxony and 24.0% in Thuringia support, respectively. When asked how he would explain the election results, Jürgen Braun, a member of parliament for the AfD in Baden-Württemberg, a state in southwest Germany, responded that, “The results mean that we are not entirely satisfied with the outcome of the election. But on the other hand, we are proud that we won the second election with a double-digit number of seats and 10% of the seats in the parliament. Jürgen Braun stressed that the AfD is not right-wing. “We are a right-of-center party, and some people in the United States call us neo-conservatives,” he said.

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But it is not for nothing that the AfD has long been labeled a far-right party, or even a neo-Nazi party, by the mainstream media. In the past, AfD cadres or candidates have often made controversial statements, including stopping the acceptance of Muslim refugees, banning Muslim prayer and worship, banning Islamic women from covering their faces, and reconstructing Nazi history. At the same time, AfD members of Congress and cadres participated in the International Religious Freedom (IRF) Summit in the United States this year.

When we questioned whether such a position was a double standard, Jürgen Braun explained that while many Muslims choose to follow Germany’s rules, regulations, and laws and in the practice of their faith, they must not restrict the right of other religious groups to choose to practice Christianity. “That sometimes happens in Germany,” Jürgen Braun told us.

He stressed that the AfD is against wearing headscarves in the public sphere, in the courtroom, or in classroom, and that they are against the complete covering of women, “which violates our civil liberties and the German liberal worldview. On the whole, Islam does not belong to Germany but peaceful Muslims are welcome.

Germany without the EU

When the party was founded in April 2013, the AfD’s main policy was opposition the euro. They have always believe that the euro will lead to an otherwise uncompetitive economy, which will cause damage to other economies. In 2019, the AfD threatened to push for a “German Exit” (Dexit) if the EU did not follow the “appropriate timetable” for reform. The AfD party conference also resolved to abolish the European Parliament, criticizing the institution as undemocratic and “overriding the law-making powers of nation-states.”

As members of the EU, European countries can negotiate on an equal footing with the United States and China on various issues, because the EU is the second-largest economy globally. If Dexit happens, how will Germany, which is left with a single economy, negotiate with the United States and China in the future? Will Germany be able to gain bargaining chips in favor of the Germans?

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“We know that many of the negotiations are now being led by the EU in Brussels. What we want is to strengthen the concept of the nation-state,” Jürgen Braun said. He stressed that the AfD wants the old European Economic Community. “Like in the 70s and 80s. We had free trade, and we had no transit fees; we had free movement.” Jürgen Braun stressed that the EU should not have too big a political system because it limits countries’ power.

AfD’s dilemma: looking forward to friendly relations with China, but criticizing the intervention of Confucius Institutes in Germany

AfD co-leader Alice Weidel said in the pre-election debate, “It is so important that Germany needs to maintain a good, cordial relationship with China, especially China.” AfD’s policy towards China is contradictory, on the one hand supporting Germany’s participation in the “Belt and Road” initiative, but on the other hand criticizing China’s interventions abroad through the Confucius Institute.

Jürgen Braun stressed that each party has a different attitude towards China. “If you are dealing with the economy or the external economy, you want to have a good trade relationship with China, and Communist China is an important trading partner. So you don’t criticize China too much. But that’s where our party conflicts with what I personally believe. Jürgen Braun, the AfD’s spokesman on human rights, confessed this contradiction to us. “We believe that specific rules of international public law also bind China. China has signed treaties and has ratified them, but conditions of these treaties have not been followed. So, something terrible has happened in China. The United Nations is getting involved.”

Jürgen Braun singled out the case of Falun Gong, saying that there appear to be signs that China is using prisoners’ organs in an organized trade and that new details have been revealed and the United Nations is getting involved. “If this is true, it would be a very terrible crime.”

Support Taiwan, the Republic of China, or Chinese Taipei?

As the world’s powder keg in the 21st century, Taiwan has become a key area of contention between China and other countries, especially Western countries. However, the AfD has yet to take an official position on Taiwan. But Jürgen Braun promises, “I think I will join you in friendship and cooperation.” He emphasized his sympathy for the current situation in Taiwan and his admiration for Taiwan’s development and promotion of more freedom and human rights.

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When asked if he thought Taiwan should join international organizations under the name of Taiwan, the Republic of China, or Chinese Taipei, Jürgen Braun said, “That’s an interesting question, because many people have different names for your country. Personally, I am very sympathetic to the Republic of China as a national name. We are against China dominating the discussion here and dictating how your country should be named.” Finally, Jürgen Braun concluded with the name Taiwan, “We also fully expect Taiwan to become a member of the World Health Organization.”

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Dennis Peng is a Taiwanese journalist. He was a professor at National Taiwan University, host of Next TV, host of Formosa Television, and created the Do Post, a digital media. After criticizing the ruling party and being expelled by FTV, he founded the Economic and Political Media.

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Fausto Chou is a Taiwanese journalist. He has been the executive editor of the Eat News since June, 2020. He previously worked for the Eastern Television (ETTV) and Formosa Television (FTV) as a journalist.

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Eat News is a Taiwanese digital media, analyzes current events and issues through column articles, videos, visual aid, and exclusive interviews.

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