Saying that Germany firmly supports China’s opposition to Taiwan's independence, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder sided with Beijing on Wednesday as China threatened to invade Taiwan in case of a referendum on independence.
It's all smiles at the chancellor's farewell dinner.
On the last day of a three-day visit to China, German Chancellor Schröder said he shared the country's Communist leadership’s views on a united China. “I believe that China is one country and has to remain as such,” the chancellor told students in southern China’s Canton province.
Just like China had always supported German reunification, “it goes without saying that we will do the same,” Schröder said.
“One China” separated since 1949
The German government has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan. According to the German Foreign Office’s web site, Germany advocates that “all questions concerning the relationship between China and Taiwan be resolved peacefully" and calls upon the two sides to conduct a constructive dialogue on Taiwan’s status and to refrain from using military means.
Taiwanese citizens have their own passports, but their country is not recognized by most nations around the world.
Like Germany, most countries do not recognize the island as an independent country although Taiwan has been separated from mainland China since the 1949 civil war. Beijing views Taiwan as a runaway province and is working toward reunification. Taiwanese leaders have said they won’t agree to that until China has a democratically elected government.
Referendum plans anger Beijing
Recently, relations between Bejing and Taipei have been strained after the Taiwanese parliament adopted a new law calling for a referendum on independence should China deploy its military might against the island.
A ship explodes during a Taiwanese military excercises in October.
Chinese rulers view this as a step toward a Taiwanese declaration of independence. Deputy Foreign Minister Zhou Wenzhong said Taiwanese plans for a referendum and a new constitution represented the “biggest challenge so far” for Beijing’s “One China” policy and stability in the region.
Just days before Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is due to visit Washington, D.C., Zhou called on the U.S. to stop supplying Taiwan with weapons. While the U.S. doesn’t recognize Taiwan, it functions as the island’s main arms supplier.
Schröder calls on China to end Internet censorship
The German chancellor’s visit to China coincided with the release of three dissidents, who had been jailed for criticizing the government in the Internet.
While the Germans welcomed the move, Schröder called upon Beijing to end its Internet censorship. China could only reach its goal of becoming the world’s largest Internet market within the next four years if foreign and national Internet users had free access to information.
An Internet cafe in China. Not all web sites can be viewed as many are censored by the government.
Beijing has an estimated 30,000 censors scanning web sites and blocking access to pages with content unfavorable to the regime. According to the organization “Reporters without Borders,” 43 so-called cyber dissidents still remain in Chinese prisons.