Diplomacy: Baerbock in China: Focus on Ukraine and situation around Taiwan

Shortly before the inaugural visit of Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) to China, the federal government called for a de-escalation in the Taiwan conflict.

Diplomacy: Baerbock in China: Focus on Ukraine and situation around Taiwan

Shortly before the inaugural visit of Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) to China, the federal government called for a de-escalation in the Taiwan conflict. "We are very concerned about the situation in the Taiwan Strait," said a spokeswoman for the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin on Wednesday. "Of course we expect everyone involved in the region to contribute to stability and peace. The same applies to the People's Republic of China." The spokeswoman added: "And we have the impression that measures such as military threats run counter to this goal and rather increase the risk of unintentional military clashes."

Baerbock wanted to embark on a six-day trip to China, South Korea and Japan late Wednesday evening. The spokeswoman for the Federal Foreign Office said that in addition to German-Chinese relations, the focus of the first visit to China was the situation in the Taiwan Strait, the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, the human rights situation in China and the containment of the climate crisis.

China officially ended a three-day major maneuvers by the People's Liberation Army near the democratic island republic of Taiwan on Monday evening. With the military drills, Beijing responded to Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen's visit to the United States and her talks with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. The communist leadership in Beijing regards Taiwan, which has been governed independently for more than 70 years, as part of the People's Republic and is threatening to conquer it. China is trying to isolate Taiwan internationally.

Perhaps the most difficult mission of her tenure

Given China's backing for Russian President Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine and tensions over Taiwan, the trip is likely to be one of Baerbock's most difficult diplomatic missions of her term in office. In addition, the federal government wants to develop a strategy for dealing with China as part of the planned national security strategy. Baerbock had been clearly critical of Beijing in the past. However, she also made it clear that it was not about decoupling, but rather about minimizing risk in the area of ​​economic dependency.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said in Beijing that Baerbock will hold the sixth round of strategic dialogue between the two countries with Qin Gang. In addition to bilateral relations and the relationship with the European Union, it should also be about international and regional trouble spots.

During a visit to Beijing last week, French President Emmanuel Macron and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tried to influence state and party leader Xi Jinping to use his influence on Russia to end the war.

Macron's statements continue to be the subject

In China, Baerbock is also likely to be asked about Macron's controversial statements about Europe's role in the Taiwan conflict. Macron had said after the visit to Beijing: "The worst thing would be to think that we Europeans should be followers on this issue and adapt to the American rhythm and a Chinese overreaction." Europe threatens to be a vassal between the US and China, although one can be a third pole.

SPD parliamentary group leader Rolf Mützenich said in the ARD "Morgenmagazin" that he expected Baerbock's visit to China to be difficult. She knows that she will be received "with a certain skepticism". Mützenich believes that a consistent, but not too bold and loud, approach to Beijing is right.

Baerbock should also be accompanied by an economic policy issue. For example, the controversial entry of the Chinese state-owned company Cosco at a Hamburg container terminal is again in question six months after a fundamental decision by the federal government. The reason is that the relevant terminal in Tollerort is now classified as critical infrastructure. It is unclear what consequences this could have and whether the deal could still be completely prohibited.

Cosco originally wanted to take over 35 percent of the operating company of Container Terminal Tollerort GmbH and, in return, upgrade the terminal to become the preferred transshipment point in Europe. However, a heated argument broke out in the federal government over the question of whether Chinese participation should be allowed. In October, the cabinet decided on a so-called partial ban, which only allows the acquisition of less than 25 percent of Cosco shares. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) spoke out in favor of the acquisition. Baerbock's foreign ministry and other departments had expressed serious concerns about the cabinet's decision.