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German lawmakers call for deeper ties with Taiwan

Deutsche Welle 10/6/2022 Deutsche Welle
German parliamentarians say they look forward to continued dialog with their democratic partners in Taipeh. © DW German parliamentarians say they look forward to continued dialog with their democratic partners in Taipeh.

A six-person delegation of German parliamentarians wrapped up a five-day visit to Taipei. Representatives stressed shared democratic values and the importance of dialog.A group of six German parliamentarians from six different Bundestag parliamentary groups underlined their desire to deepen ties with Taiwanese counterparts Thursday as they wrapped up a five-day visit to the island.

Led by Klaus-Peter Willsch of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the group repeatedly stressed that the trip was solely aimed at fostering cooperation between each country's respective parliaments and that it in no way represented the German government as a whole nor the Foreign Ministry in Berlin.

The trip began Sunday and was harshly criticized by China, which has been repeatedly irked by Western politicians visiting Taiwan as it ratchets up threats of a military incursion into the island -- which sees itself as autonomous and which Beijing sees as part of the People's Republic of China (PRC).

When German politicians arrived Sunday, Beijing again asserted that "Taiwan is an inseparable part of China," and admonished lawmakers to abide by Beijing's "One China" policy, calling for them to "immediately" end contact with "separatists" in Taipei.

China is Germany's second-largest trading partner behind the US.

German politicians condemn Chinese intimidation of Taiwan as 'unacceptable'

Reacting to Beijing's criticism, Katrin Budde of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) said, "We were surprised that other countries were dictating where we should travel." She noted that Germany's federal parliament would decide where its members were allowed to travel.

Willsch, too, addressed Beijing's intensified saber rattling, which has taken on new importance in light of Russia's February 24 invasion of Ukraine. "This is not the way we understand international politics," he said, calling military threats against neighbors "unacceptable."

Not only did Willsch call Chinese military maneuvers near Taiwan "unacceptable," he also warned of the real risk of heightened military activity. "When the number of operations increases, it always brings the threat that things might unintentionally spin out of control," he said.

At the same time, Willsch praised democratic Taiwan as a "country is based on the rule of law, a haven of freedom in Asia."

Tensions in the region went from high to fraught this summer after US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi visited Taipeh. Her presence was retorted by Beijing with large-scale military maneuvers in the Taiwan Strait.

German parliamentarians: 'Democracies have to support one another'

In a final press conference Thursday, representatives from Berlin stressed the importance of dialog as well as shared values.

Parliamentarians also spoke of the desire to exchange ideas about how to confront common problems such as housing shortages, scientific challenges and energy dependency.

Asked what their main message would be after days of meetings, Willsch said flatly, "Our message is to the Taiwanese people, and it is that things are returning to normal."

Green Party parliamentarian Till Steffen said that for him the main takeaway was that "democracies have to support one another," referencing the fact that the world is currently witnessing authoritarians doing the same thing. He pointed to the close ties Beijing and Moscow have been displaying throughout the course of the Ukraine crisis as just one example.

Frank Schäffler of the neoliberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) said Germany and Taiwan should deepen trade and economic ties as both would benefit from new agreements on bilateral investment and free trade. He also urged doing so at the EU level.

While in Taiwan, the cross-party Berlin-Taipei Parliamentary Friendship Group met with President Tsai Ing-wen, Vice President Lai Ching-te, Legislative Speaker You Si-kun, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu and other Taiwanese lawmakers, as well as representatives from technology companies and institutions focussed on security issues.

In a few weeks' time, the Bundestag's Human Rights Committee will embark on a visit to Taipeh, to be followed early next year by one for young parliamentarians. Taiwanese parliamentarians responsible for maintaining relations with Germany have also been extended an invitation to Berlin.

The German visit was the first since 2019 as a result of COVID-19 restrictions.

Copyright 2022 DW.COM, Deutsche Welle. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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