US House Speaker Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan led to strong reactions from China. German MPs are also planning a trip. They don’t want to be deterred by threats from Beijing.
Despite increasing tensions with China, the Human Rights Committee of the Bundestag is planning a trip to Taiwan for the end of October. The visit should be officially requested from the Parliament Presidency by the beginning of September at the latest, as the German Press Agency learned from several committee members. Up to eight MPs from all parliamentary groups are to take part, but there is no precise program yet. In addition, the Parliamentary Friends of Berlin-Taipei is planning a trip to Taiwan with six MPs for the beginning of October.
Tensions with China escalated this week after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. The People’s Liberation Army of China plans to conduct target practice maneuvers around the island and near the coast by Sunday in response. On Friday, Beijing imposed sanctions on Pelosi, including family members. She also suspended the dialogue with the USA on climate protection and other cooperation.
CDU politician does not want to bow
CDU politician Michael Brand sees China’s actions as no reason to abandon the Human Rights Committee’s long-standing travel plans. “The Chinese leadership must ensure that it doesn’t just become a threat-spewing dragon on the international stage. A little more Asian discipline would be appropriate,” he says.
FDP politician Peter Heidt, who also wants to travel to Taipei, is not intimidated either: “There aren’t many democracies left in Asia. That’s why we have to support them and not let China impose its rules on us.”
Chinese embassy warns against provocations
The Chinese embassy in Berlin meanwhile criticized Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan and also issued a warning to the Europeans. They should consider whether to continue to support “the dangerous and provocative actions of the United States” and “drag the world into a quagmire of confrontation,” it said in a statement.
The communist leadership in Beijing fundamentally rejects official contacts from other countries to Taiwan because they claim the democratically governed island for themselves. She sees this as interference in internal affairs. The 23 million Taiwanese, on the other hand, see themselves as independent.
Last MP trip to Taiwan 2019
There have also been trips by members of the Bundestag to Taiwan in the past. Most recently, the German-Taiwanese parliamentary group headed by CDU politician Klaus-Peter Willsch was there in 2019, and is now organizing another trip for October, which has already been approved by the Bundestag Presidium. “Against the background of the most recent events, it will of course become even more important,” he says.
The Human Rights Committee had planned a visit to Taipei in 2020, which was canceled due to Corona and is now to be made up for. The trip is scheduled to take place between October 22nd and 30th and will go to Japan as well as Taiwan. A stopover in Hong Kong is also being considered, but this would require an entry permit from Beijing.
Bundestag President Bas has no travel plans
For the time being, however, the trip to Taiwan by Parliament President Bärbel Bas (SPD), suggested by Taiwan’s representative in Berlin, Jhy-Wey Shieh, will not take place. Shieh told the “Tagesspiegel”: “The inhibitions about traveling to Taiwan must fall.”
However, the Bundestag administration has already waved it off. According to her, the seven “sovereignty-relevant offices” have an agreement not to have personal contact with their respective counterparts in Taiwan. This refers to the Federal President and the heads of the four other constitutional bodies (Bundestag, Bundesrat, Federal Government, Federal Constitutional Court) as well as the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense.
China’s ambassador has already warned
Incidentally, Pelosi’s visit was not the first trip by parliamentarians to Taiwan that caused a stir. Two years ago, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi responded with threats to a trip by Czech parliamentarian Milos Vystrcil. Vystrcil will have to pay a “high price” for his “short-sighted behavior,” he said. The Chinese ambassador to Germany, Wu Ken, said in an interview at the time how he would react to a trip by German parliamentarians to Taipei: “We reject any official contact with Taiwan.”
The CDU politician Brand believes that if you allow yourself to be impressed by such threats, MPs should no longer give interviews. “China is now protesting even against this,” he says. “If we take ourselves seriously, then we must finally take China seriously and reject the threat.”
Representative of Taiwan’s Human Rights Committee of the Bundestag