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Germany says China fanning flames with Taiwan maneuvers

April 12, 2023

Germany has accused China of ratcheting up tensions with its recent military drills around Taiwan. Berlin's comments came immediately ahead of a top-level diplomatic visit to Beijing.

Warplanes of the Eastern Theater Command of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) during the combat readiness patrol and military exercises around the Taiwan
Fighter jets and naval vessels took part in the drills around the island of TaiwanImage: Mei Shaoquan/Xinhua/picture alliance

Germany's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday said China had inflamed tensions with its military exercises around the island of Taiwan.

The comments came just hours ahead of a visit to Beijing by Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.

What the foreign ministry said

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Andrea Sasse said China's training exercises near Taiwan increased the risk of unintended or accidental clashes.

"We are very concerned about the situation in the Taiwan Strait," said Sasse. "We naturally expect all parties in the region to contribute to stability and peace. That applies equally to the People's Republic of China."

"We have the impression that measures such as threatening military gestures... increase the risk of unintended military clashes," Sasse said.

She added that Germany was "working with our international partners to contribute to de-escalation" in the region.

Targeted strikes and blockade

China on Monday ended three days of military drills conducted in response to a visit by Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen to the United States last week. While in Washington, Tsai met a bipartisan group of lawmakers and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

In the maneuvers, China's People's Liberation Army simulated targeted strikes and a blockade of Taiwan.

China simulates 'sealing off' Taiwan on third day of drills

China and Taiwan split following a civil war in 1949, and Beijing regards the democratic island as part of its territory. China's leaders have vowed to take the island one day and have not ruled out the use of force in achieving that aim.

What's on Baerbock's itinerary?

Baerbock was headed to China on Wednesday evening to discuss the war in Ukraine and tensions around Taiwan with top Chinese foreign and defense officials.

Her visit immediately follows a controversial visit to Beijing by French President Emmanuel Macron. As he flew back from China, Macron upset some Western allies by saying Europe should not necessarily echo US policy on Taiwan, especially in terms of "accelerating" tensions with China.

In Beijing, Baerbock will meet representatives of German companies, as well as Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang.

The foreign minister has previously urged more caution in trade with China, warning that Germany must avoid repeating the mistake of dependence that it had on Russia over recent years.

Baerbock then flies to South Korea to vist the demilitarized zone and to hold political talks in Seoul. On Sunday, she will join a meeting of the G7 foreign ministers in Japan.

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell had been set to accompany Baerbock in China, but is no longer able to attend after he tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday.

rc/msh (dpa, AFP)

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