German Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger landed in Taipei on Tuesday, making her the first sitting cabinet official to visit Taiwan in decades.
To kick off the two-day visit, Stark-Watzinger signed a bilateral deal with self-governing Taiwan regarding science and technology.
"It's a great pleasure and honor for me to be the first minister heading a specialist government department to visit Taiwan in 26 years," Stark-Watzinger said in the Taiwanese capital.
Sci-tech deal to deepen German-Taiwanese ties
"The arrangement stands for enhancing cooperation on the basis of democratic values, transparency, openness, reciprocity, and scientfic freedom," she added, referring to the newly inked Science and Technology Agreement.
Taiwanese Minister of Science and Technology Tsung-Tsong Wu, who met with Stark-Watzinger, said her trip shows that Berlin views Taiwan as a "valuable partner."
"If we combine Taiwan's chip production capacity with Germany's applications in some advanced industries, such as biomedicine and automobiles, then it will be a win-win cooperation in the following 10, 20 years or even 30 years," the Taiwanese official said.
Taiwan is a major producer of chips used in devices such as laptops, appliances and even automobiles. Taiwanese chipmaker TSMC is reportedly holding talks with the eastern German state of Saxony regarding a potential plant in Germany.
The decision to visit Taiwan comes amid tensions with mainland China. Beijing denies Taiwanese sovereignty and has signaled that it could take over the island.
China strongly condemns Taiwan trip
China said it filed a diplomatic complaint with Germany regarding the visit.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Wenbin told reporters in Beijing that Germany "immediately stop associating and interacting with Taiwan independence separatist forces and immediately stop using the Taiwan issue to interfere in China's internal affairs."
German politicians, along with officials from other countries such as the US, have been visiting Taiwan in recent months to express solidarity, amid fears that China could launch an invasion of the island.
Germany does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan. China rejects official ties with nations that recognize Taiwanese sovereignty.
Germany's Foreign Ministry recently reiterated its "one China" policy, where it maintains formal diplomatic relations with China, but also close informal ties with Taiwan.
wd/es (Reuters, AFP, dpa)
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