| 9 December 2023, Saturday |

Taiwan envoy calls on Germany to up visits, military cooperation

Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to Berlin complimented Germany for taking a more proactive position toward China and pushed the government to strengthen ties with Taipei further.

Shieh Jhy-Wey, who was assigned to Berlin in 2016, told Reuters that he wanted Germany and its strategic allies would ask Taiwan to join their upcoming Indo-Pacific maneuvers or organize more bilateral visits.

Critics have long accused Germany of being soft on Beijing on matters such as human rights violations and its stance toward Chinese-claimed, self-ruled Taiwan, in part due to Germany’s huge economic reliance on China, which has been Germany’s top trading partner since 2016.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s cabinet, on the other hand, has pledged to be harder, with its coalition agreement becoming the first to include Taiwan. It asserts that any changes to the status quo in the Taiwan Straits must be done peacefully and mutually.

In recent weeks, China has conducted large-scale military maneuvers in the waters surrounding Taiwan in reaction to US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to the island.

Germany has joined other Western nations over the past year in expanding its military presence in the Indo-Pacific amid growing alarm over Beijing’s territorial ambitions. This week it sent 13 military aircraft to joint exercises in Australia.

Shieh also said Taiwan should be more closely integrated into international organisations like the United Nations, the World Health Organization or Interpol.

He said one no longer heard any mention in Berlin of “Wandel durch Handel” – change through trade, long the guiding principle of Germany’s policy towards China – other than to criticize it.

Germany’s focus in the region appeared to be shifting towards a geopolitical one, he said. The government has warned of an economic decoupling from China, although critics question how tough it can get given its economic reliance on Asia’s rising superpower.

Shieh stated that a new road was being pursued at the European level, noting European Parliament Vice President Nicola Beer’s travel to Taiwan in July, the first by such a high-ranking EU official.

Shieh stated that a visit from the head of Germany’s Bundestag lower house of parliament would be “too much to expect.” Germany has barred any high-ranking state officials from visiting.

According to Committee President Renata Alt, a delegation of legislators from the Bundestag’s human rights committee plan to visit Taiwan in October.

  • Reuters