Germany appeals to China to reduce tension over Taiwan

Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock speaks with the media as she arrives for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels on April 4, 2023. [AP Photo]

Germany's government appealed for efforts to reduce tension over Taiwan as the German foreign minister flew to China for official talks following Chinese military exercises near the self-ruled island democracy Beijing claims is part of its territory.

Annalena Baerbock was due to arrive Thursday. Her ministry said she would discuss Taiwan, Ukraine, human rights and other issues with Chinese officials.

China's ruling Communist Party sent warships and fighter planes near Taiwan last weekend in retaliation for a meeting between U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the island's president, Tsai Ing-wen.

"Threatening military gestures" increase "the risk of unintentional military confrontations," a spokeswoman for Baerbock's ministry, Andrea Sasse, said in Berlin.

"We therefore call on all partners in the region and are working also with our international partners to contribute to a de-escalation in the strait of Taiwan," Sasse said Wednesday.

Taiwan split with China in 1949 after a civil war. The Communist Party says the island is obligated to rejoin the mainland, by force if necessary.

European governments are increasingly worried about Chinese pressure on Taiwan, a global high-tech center and one of the biggest trading economies.

European governments with the exception of Vatican City have diplomatic relations with Beijing instead of Taiwan but maintain informal and commercial relations with the island. European legislators have visited Taiwan and met Tsai to show support in the face of Chinese intimidation.

Baerbock also planned to travel to South Korea on Saturday and then attend a meeting of foreign ministers of the Group of Seven major economies in Japan on Sunday.