How to deal with China?
Germans are split over whether confrontation or conciliation is the right course
Tensions between the West, particularly the USA, and China soared this week after US Congress leader, Nancy Pelosi, became the first top level US official to visit Taiwan this century when she landed in Taipei this week. China’S response was swift. After warning that “those who play with fire will get burned,” Beijing ordered massive military exercises off the Taiwanese coast.
Taiwan, a democracy since the early 1990s, belonged to the Qing dynasty for two centuries but has existed as an independent state since the 1940s. After the communists won the Chinese Civil War on the mainland, the rival nationalists retreated to the island in the South China Sea. Beijing still sees Taiwan as a rightful part of its own territory.
German Foreign Minister, Annalena Baerbock weighed into the dispute, stating at the UN in New York that “we do not accept when international law is broken and a larger neighbour invades its smaller neighbour in violation of international law - and of course this also applies to China.”
That might seem like a statement of the obvious, but by putting Taiwan on an equal footing with China it actually constitutes a diplomatic faux pas. Unique among its profiles of countries around the globe, the German Foreign Office gives Taiwan an asterisk after its name to indicate that it doesn’t take a position on whether it is a real country or not.
Like most countries, Germany does not maintain official diplomatic relations with Taiwan (although it has substantial trade ties to the island) and officially says it is committed to a one China policy.
Beijing responded to Baerbock with an angry complaint that Germany should not meddle in “internal Chinese affairs.”
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial