German MPs, Minister due in Taiwan as tensions with China spike

The trip is to be followed by a visit from German Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger, also of the FDP, in the spring

January 05, 2023 08:12 pm | Updated 10:38 pm IST - Berlin

Flags of People’s Republic of China and Taiwan.

Flags of People’s Republic of China and Taiwan.

Germany will send a high-ranking parliamentary delegation to Taiwan next week, an MP told AFP on Thursday, followed by the first ministerial visit in two decades in moves certain to spark tensions with China.

Deputies from the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), a junior partner in Germany's coalition government, planned the trip in a sign of "solidarity" with the self-ruled democracy which China claims as part of its territory, the Head of Parliament's Defence Committee, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, told AFP.

The trip is to be followed by a visit from German Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger, also of the FDP, in the spring, sources told AFP.

It would be the first by a member of the German Cabinet in 26 years.

Chinese President Xi Jinping made clear once again at the Communist Party's most recent congress "that he is prepared to resolve the conflict over the role of Taiwan also with military means", said Ms. Strack-Zimmermann, who will lead the MPs' delegation.

"Our trip to Taiwan at the start of the new year is meant to clearly show that we will never accept the plain law of the strongest becoming part of international politics again, including in the Indo-Pacific," she added.

Ms. Strack-Zimmermann said the delegation would meet with representatives of Taiwan's government and the opposition as well as human rights organisations, business leaders and members of the military during its stay from Monday until Thursday.

Berlin's diplomatic overtures to Taiwan are likely to rile Beijing.

Mr. Xi, China's most assertive leader in a generation, has made clear that what he calls the "reunification" of Taiwan cannot be passed on to future generations.

Last year saw a spike in tensions as Beijing ramped up military pressure and launched its largest war games in decades to protest against a visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in August.

China opposes any official exchanges with Taiwan, and has reacted with growing anger to a flurry of visits by Western politicians to the island.

Also in August, the German Air Force boosted its presence in the Indo-Pacific with the deployment of 13 military aircraft, one year after it dispatched a frigate to the region for the first time in almost two decades.

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