Germany appeals for reducing tensions over Taiwan


BEIJING (AP) – Germany’s government appealed for efforts to reduce tensions over Taiwan as the German foreign minister arrived in China on Thursday for official talks following Chinese military exercises near the self-governed island democracy that Beijing claims is part of its territory.

Annalena Baerbock arrived in the northeastern port city of Tianjin for meetings and was due to hold talks with her Chinese counterpart, Qin Gang, on Friday in Beijing and with senior diplomat Wang Yi on Saturday. Her ministry said she would discuss Taiwan, Ukraine, human rights and other issues with Chinese officials.

China’s ruling Communist Party sent warships and fighter planes near Taiwan last weekend in retaliation for a meeting between U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the island’s president, Tsai Ing-wen.

“Threatening military gestures” increase “the risk of unintentional military confrontations,” a spokesperson for Baerbock’s ministry, Andrea Sasse, said in Berlin.

“We therefore call on all partners in the region and are working also with our international partners to contribute to a de-escalation in the Strait of Taiwan,” Sasse said Wednesday.

Taiwan and mainland China split in 1949 after a civil war. The Communist Party says the island is obligated to rejoin the mainland, by force if necessary.

European governments are increasingly worried about Chinese pressure on Taiwan, a global high-tech center and one of the biggest trading economies.

European governments with the exception of Vatican City have diplomatic relations with Beijing instead of Taiwan but maintain informal and commercial relations with the island. European legislators have visited Taiwan and met Tsai to show support in the face of Chinese intimidation.

On Ukraine, Baerbock said in a statement issued by her ministry that Germany’s interest in “bringing the war on our European doorstep in Ukraine to a swift, lasting and just end” was at the top of her agenda for the visit.

“As a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, China bears a special responsibility for world peace,” she said.

Germany has strongly backed Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s invasion, while Beijing has blamed the U.S. and NATO for provoking the conflict.

While trade and investment between them remain strong, Germany has grown increasingly wary of China’s growing influence in its economy.

Germany has ordered a new security assessment of Chinese company COSCO’s plan to purchase a 25% stake in a container terminal in Hamburg amid heavy criticism from many in Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government, throwing the deal into doubt and prompting strong complaints from Beijing.

“We hope Germany can refrain from politicizing business cooperation, making it something about ideology or security, or artificially setting up obstacles,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said at a briefing Thursday.

Baerbock plans to travel to South Korea on Saturday and then attend a meeting of foreign ministers of the Group of Seven major economies in Japan on Sunday.


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