THREAT OF FORCE: Heiko Maas said that the German government would make clear, as it has done before, that it disagrees with Beijing’s threat of force against Taiwan
By Peng Wang-hsin / Staff reporter
German Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas on Wednesday last week voiced his opposition to China’s threat of using military force, making him the highest-ranking foreign official to speak out against Beijing’s Taiwan policy in several years.
Wong Ming-hsien （翁明賢）, a professor at Tamkang University’s Graduate Institute of International Affairs and Strategic Studies, on Saturday said that Maas’ remarks are part of German efforts to counter China’s rise as the EU becomes increasingly aware of the problems resulting from Beijing’s growing influence in the world.
Maas made the remarks at the German Bundestag, after Germany-Taiwan Parliamentary Friendship Group Chairman Klaus-Peter Willsch, a Christian Democratic Union lawmaker, asked him about Chinese President Xi Jinping’s （習近平） Jan. 2 speech.
In an address in Beijing on the 40th anniversary of the “Message to Compatriots in Taiwan,” Xi said that he would not renounce the use of force against foreign forces and pro-Taiwanese independence “separatists” that interfere with China’s goal of peaceful unification as he announced plans to explore a Taiwanese version of the “one country, two systems” model.
The German government would make clear, as it has in the past, that it disagrees with Beijing’s threat of military force against Taiwan, Maas said.
China has at least once persuaded individual EU members to block proposals about Taiwan that have come before the Council of the EU’s Foreign Affairs Council, he said, adding that he hoped the EU would adopt majority rule, instead of requiring unanimity, and share Germany’s stance on issues related to Taiwan.
Germany has always believed in resolving cross-strait issues by peaceful means, German Minister for European Affairs Michael Roth said in a written response to the session.
Cross-strait dialogues should take place based on mutual respect, and the “status quo” should not be changed unless both sides agree, he added.
Commenting on Maas’ remarks, Wong said that China, in its rise, has been responsible for many problems worldwide, such as Beijing’s crackdowns on human rights in China’s Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region and Tibet, as well as alleged attempts to gather intelligence from other governments through Huawei Technologies Co.
Beijing’s “Made in China 2025” plan and Germany’s “Industry 4.0” plan are mutually exclusive, and although China is Germany’s third-biggest market, the German government would not allow their trading partnership to affect its foreign policies, he said.
Germany’s attempts to counter China’s rise can be in part attributed to efforts by the nation’s representative offices abroad, he said.
As Germany is a federal republic, the Taiwanese government should consider promoting Taiwan through enhanced civic exchanges with local governments in Germany, he added.
German Minister of Foreign Affairs Heiko Maas arrives for the weekly Cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin on Wednesday last week. Photo: AFP