German minister defends Taiwan visit

Beijing, Mar 22 (EFE).- German Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger said her visit to Taiwan was to carry out “professional exchanges” in what is the first visit at ministerial level by a German government representative in 26 years.

“Our focus is professional exchanges and the China issue is not a matter to be discussed,” the minister told reporters in Taipei, adding that her trip is in line with her country’s China policy and expects it to be “transparent, professional and without surprises.”

Stark-Watzinger’s remarks come after a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman spoke of his country’s “strong opposition and strong disapproval” concerning the visit and told Berlin to stick to the one-China principle and “immediately stop” interacting and sending wrong signals “to the separatist forces” on the island.

The German official said that although this type of travel could become routine, the decision to visit Taiwan corresponds individually to each minister.

Stark-Watzinger said Taiwan and Germany face the problem of brain drain in the field of semiconductors, so such exchanges with a partner who shares the values of democracy and the rule of law are “a must.”

Before the trip, a German education ministry spokesman said the aim is to “strengthen cooperation in the field of science, research and education” adding that the issue of Taiwan’s sovereignty is not on the agenda.

The minister and her accompanying 14-person delegation met Wednesday with Taiwanese Education Minister Pan Wen-chung to exchange views on Chinese language teaching and academic institutions related to the semiconductor industry.

The agenda also included visits to the National Taiwan University, to institutions related to the field and the signing of a cooperation pact in science and technology, according to Taiwanese state news agency CNA.

Stark-Watzinger’s trip to the island follows the one made by a delegation from the German parliament in the fall of last year, which also led to a protest by the Chinese government.

The parliamentarians’ visit came after the commotion caused by then-US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which led to strong tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Beijing has claimed sovereignty over Taiwan since the Kuomintang nationalists retreated to the island in 1949 after losing the civil war against the communist army. EFE


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