The visit of a delegation from the German Bundestag to Taiwan causes severe upset in German-Chinese relations. Shortly after the six members of the Bundestag arrived in Taipei on Sunday, the government in Beijing protested. A State Department spokesman urged lawmakers to adhere to the "one China principle" and "immediately cease" their interactions with "separatist pro-independence forces" in Taiwan. You should not send "wrong signals".
The head of the delegation, Klaus-Peter Willsch (CDU), rejected the demands. The parliamentary group maintains relations with the Taiwanese parliament, including such visits. "The problem isn't the peaceful journey to a democracy. It's the complete overreaction of a nervous dictatorship that responds to words with missiles and military aggression," said Willsch.
"An exchange of parliamentarians must not be used as a pretext for saber-rattling behavior by the Chinese communists or as an excuse for further violations of Taiwan's sea and air space," said the CDU politician, apparently also with a view to China's violent reaction to the visit of the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi in Taiwan in August.
China responded with military maneuvers
China launched large-scale maneuvers in protest and has since maintained military pressure by deploying warships and aircraft near Taiwan. Beijing's foreign ministry spokesman stressed: "Taiwan is an inseparable part of Chinese territory." The government of the People's Republic is the only legitimate government in all of China. For this reason, Beijing also rejects such official contacts from other countries to Taipei.
It is the first visit by a Bundestag delegation to the democratic island republic since the pandemic began at the end of 2019. The "Berlin-Taipei Circle of Friends" wants to spend five days getting an idea of the tense security situation and economic and political developments. The parliamentarians will be received with high rank: Meetings with President Tsai Ing-wen, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and Parliament leader You Si-kun are planned.
China's claim to power over Taiwan dates back to the founding history of the People's Republic. After being defeated by the communists in the civil war, the national Chinese government fled to Taiwan, while Mao Tsetung proclaimed the People's Republic in Beijing in 1949. State and party leader Xi Jinping sees "unification" with Taiwan as a "historic mission" and threatens to conquer the 23 million Taiwanese. Taiwan, on the other hand, which is considered one of the most vibrant democracies in Asia, has long considered itself independent.
No change in ratio
In view of the threats, the MPs also want to send a signal. Right now it's important to demonstrate friendship with Taiwan, Green Party politician Till Steffen told DW's Chinese program. German policy towards Taiwan and China has not changed. It would only be different if MPs were reluctant to visit Taiwan now. At a time when China is threatening Taiwan, it would send a "negative signal" not to travel. China should "not interfere".
Both sides want to expand the cooperation. Germany is also committed to Taiwan's participation in organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO) or the Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). However, participation fails due to resistance from Beijing, which wants to isolate Taipei. With its "One China Doctrine," China does not allow diplomatic partners to maintain relations with Taiwan. Germany also only has an unofficial representation in Taipei.
Taiwan ranks fifth among Germany's trading partners in Asia, while the country trades as much with no other EU member as it does with Germany. The exchange of goods exceeded 20 billion US dollars last year. After a visit by French MPs in early September, the Berlin group of friends is the second parliamentary delegation from a major EU member to visit Taiwan. The Human Rights Committee of the Bundestag is also planning a visit at the end of October.
Deutsche Welle Interview, Chinese