China Monday invoked Germany’s “painful” history in slamming a Taiwan visit by a high-ranking parliamentary delegation from Berlin, in an apparent reference to the country’s wartime record.

The group of German lawmakers arrived in the self-ruled island on Monday ahead of an anticipated ministerial visit later this year in a move that will likely enrage China.

Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann
Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, chair of Germany’s parliamentary defence committee and a leader of the delegation to Taiwan. File photo: NATO.

The visit is a “sign of solidarity” with the democracy which China claims as part of its territory, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, chair of the parliamentary defence committee and a leader of the delegation, told AFP.

China’s foreign ministry Monday swiftly condemned the visit.

“The root cause of the Taiwan problem is precisely that the law of the jungle, hegemonism, colonialism, militarism and nationalism were rampant in the world, and China suffered deeply from them,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told a briefing. 

“Germany has (experienced) a profound and painful historical lesson in this regard,” he added.

“We urge these German politicians to earnestly abide by the One-China principle.”

The deputies from the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP) — a junior partner in Germany’s coalition government — are set to meet with “senior figures from politics, civil society and the military”, Strack-Zimmermann said.

The delegation would discuss the current “threat situation” in their meetings, she added.

taipei 101
Taipei 101. Photo: GovTW.

The trip is set to be followed by a visit from German Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger, also of the FDP, in the next few months, sources told AFP. 

It would be the first by a member of the German cabinet in 26 years.

“In light of the military threats from China we have travelled as a delegation from the FDP to Taiwan, because a signal of support for Taiwan is now needed,” senior FDP MP Johannes Vogel told AFP. 

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Vogel warned that Chinese President Xi Jinping could also unleash a war.

“After (Russian President Vladimir) Putin comes Xi,” Vogel said.

“We must take autocrats seriously and literally.”

Economic challenge

The two senior FDP deputies also warned against Germany becoming too economically dependent on China, its biggest trading partner in 2021.

“It can only be to our disadvantage to make ourselves dependent economically on autocratic states,” Strack-Zimmermann said, highlighting Germany’s recent experience with Russia — on whose natural resources it had become dependent before the Ukraine invasion.

Berlin’s diplomatic overtures to Taiwan are likely to rile Beijing.

Last year saw a spike in tensions as Beijing ramped up military pressure and launched its largest war games in decades to protest against a visit by then-US House speaker Nancy Pelosi in August.

China opposes any official exchanges with Taiwan, and has reacted with growing anger to a flurry of visits by Western politicians to the island.

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