- Interview with FDP politician Johannes Vogel
- Travel without quarantine
- Worker protests in Chongqing
- Jack Ma withdraws
- High mortality rate among elderly engineers
- Taiwan wants a say in WTO talks
- Japan could stockpile weapons near Taiwan
- Xi meets Turkmenian president
- Deaths after truck accident
- Columbia professor Wei on GDP growth
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Delegation trips to Taiwan experienced a real upswing last year. Probably the most prominent visit was the trip by Nancy Pelosi, then Speaker of the US House of Representatives. Her visit to Taipei and China’s reaction kept the world’s attention for several days in August. After Pelosi, other US congressmen visited Taiwan. EU delegation trips to the island also gained momentum last year.
Now Berlin is also sending politicians to Taipei: A high-ranking delegation of the liberal FDP parliamentary group is officially visiting Taiwan on Monday. Finn Mayer-Kuckuk spoke with deputy head of delegation Johannes Vogel about the political message of the visit, as well as the position of the German government in the Taiwan debate and vis-à-vis Beijing. “Thinking about a new direction has begun on a broad front in the coalition,” Vogel said. “However, we still need to talk in-depth about the details.”
After almost three years, travel to China without quarantine is finally possible as of Sunday. As a result, border traffic between Hong Kong and the mainland is also increasing. We take a look at the border posts between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, where families, friends, and couples can embrace each other again without quarantine. When foreign tourists will be able to enter China with visas remains to be seen. So far, business travel has taken priority. The German Foreign Office still advises against trips to the People’s Republic.
In today’s So to Speak section we inform you about the healing powers of “Dongbei Penicillin“. In the current flu, cold and Covid wave, the wonder cure out of the can may also help you or your friends and family.
‘We must take Xi Jinping’s statements literally’
What is the political message of this visit?
The new systemic competition between democracies and autocracies requires a comprehensive approach. One of the dimensions is that we have to take statements of autocrats like Xi Jinping seriously and literally, and he now also openly speaks of military aggression to reunify Taiwan. It is therefore necessary to send a clear signal of support to Taiwan.
China takes these visits very seriously.
We do what we believe is politically right as self-confident parliamentarians. After all, we are not talking about turning away from the One China policy. Our approach is consistent with the line adopted by the German government.
Still, you are a high-level delegation.
Indeed, but this is also an important issue. Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann, the Chairwoman of the Defense Committee, is traveling with us, and I am the First Parliamentary Secretary of the parliamentary group and Deputy Federal Chairman of a governing party. In addition, we have other high-profile colleagues from the parliamentary group executive committee and our foreign policy working group with us. That is a sign in the sense of the first answer.
Are there any specific offers that Germany and Europe should now make to Taiwan, for instance full memberships in international bodies?
In the coalition agreement, we set out to strengthen Taiwan’s involvement below the level of state recognition. We are committed to this.
The goal, however, is to ultimately avoid war.
Yes, and in the sense of avoiding a confrontation, the West as a whole must position itself in such a way that it also makes such a crisis event unlikely through deterrence.
Does it make sense from the perspective of the Western alliances to draw red lines: If China does thing A, then thing B happens?
It is not wise to think in would-be scenarios here. However, it has already been clearly formulated that reunification with military force would not remain without consequences.
‘It is not about decoupling fantasies’
What considerations are currently necessary and required for this?
Above all, it includes an economic dimension in addition to a security policy dimension. I have already spoken about this with smart interlocutors of our allies in Washington, who emphasize this point in particular for Europe as well.
What change in the economic policy of the EU and Germany is the FDP striving for?
We need to make ourselves more independent of the Chinese market and act from a position of economic strength. This includes, on the one hand, bringing our own innovative strength back to the forefront and, on the other hand, reducing dependencies by promoting more free trade with free-market democracies right now. So this is not about decoupling fantasies but an economic strategy ‘beyond China’. There are many market-economy partners for such a policy, including around the Pacific, such as the ASEAN states, Australia, and India, in addition to South Korea and Japan.
Volkswagen and BASF are making no effort to reduce their dependence on China. In fact, they want to invest more to maintain their market share. What is your assessment of this?
Overall, I notice that German companies – including SMEs in the Sauerland region where I live – are increasingly thinking about their own dependencies when making such decisions. But the process is certainly only just beginning. The China stress test I have called for can help because it increases transparency and sensitivity.