Germany Plans Top Level Visit to Taiwan


German Minister of Education and Research Bettina Stark-Watzinger. Photo/REUTERS

BERLIN – The German Minister of Education announced plans to visit Taiwan in the coming days. It will be the first trip to the island by a top federal official in 26 years.

Although China is likely to condemn the visit, Berlin said it did not signal any major policy shift towards the People’s Republic of China.

“German Education and Research Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger will travel to Taipei next week for a two-day visit,” said a spokeswoman for her ministry on Friday (17/3/2023).

Germany notes that the trip will focus on cooperation on computer chips and environmentally friendly technologies.

“Even though Taiwan proposed that Stark-Watzinger meet with Secretary of State Joseph Wu while he was on the island, Berlin rejected the request and would only agree to sit with lower-level officials,” the Financial Times report said, citing several people familiar with the negotiations.

Reuters sources said the German minister would also not be meeting President Tsai Ing-wen “on the instructions of the German government,” which is trying to “avoid disturbing China too much.”

Germany’s One-China policy dictates that any delegation sent to Taiwan must be limited to a special minister whose duties are unrelated to sovereignty issues.

Germany has banned the chancellor, as well as the interior, foreign or defense ministers, from visiting Taiwan.

The last trip by any German federal minister was in 1997, though lawmakers have traveled to the island on numerous occasions since then, up to and including this year.

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