Germany’s education and research minister will make an official trip to Taiwan next week, officials said on Friday. It will be the highest-level visit by a German official since 1997 to the island that China claims as part of its territory.
The March 20-22 visit comes amid rising tensions between China and the West, including Beijing’s stance on Russia’s war in Ukraine. China reacted angrily when then US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan last year.
Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger’s visit, whose ministry also oversees science, will focus on cooperation in the fields of chip research and manufacturing, green hydrogen and battery production, spokeswoman Martin Kleinemas said.
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Government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said the visit did not indicate any change of position regarding Germany’s policy on Taiwan, which supports the European Union’s practice of cooperating with Taipei on a technical level without questioning the principle of “a China”.
“We are also in regular and close contact with China and the Chinese leadership,” he said. “The visit that the Minister of Education and Research is currently making to Taiwan does not in any way challenge our position.”
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The last German cabinet-level official to visit Taiwan 26 years ago was then Economy Minister Guenter Rexrodt, a member of the same Libertarian Free Democratic Party as Stark-Watzinger. The party has pushed for a tougher line against Beijing on human rights and freedom of speech.