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A German minister visits Taiwan after 26 years

A German minister visits Taiwan after 26 years

Germany's Education Minister signed a technology cooperation agreement with Taiwan as she made the first visit by a member of Germany's cabinet in 26 years.

Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger signed the Science and Technology Agreement with Taiwan's National Science and Technology Council on the first day of her visit to Taiwan, which China has condemned.

Beijing claims the self-governing island as part of its territory and says it will one day take control of Taiwan, even by force if necessary. China has consistently opposed Taiwan's visits and engagement with international officials.

Whenever there have been visits to Taiwan by foreign officials, China has shown its military strength and increased diplomatic and economic pressure, especially when there have been visits by politicians from the United States and Europe.

During the signing ceremony of the agreement in Taipei, Stark-Watzinger said that "it is a great pleasure and honor" for her to be the first minister of the German Government to visit this island in more than two decades.

"This agreement is for strengthening cooperation based on democratic values, transparency, reciprocity and scientific freedom," she said.

Her visit comes after two months ago a high-ranking delegation from the German Parliament traveled to Taiwan, a move that was sharply criticized by Beijing.

Stark-Watzinger, when asked about China's objections to her visit, declined to comment.

The German Foreign Ministry last week reaffirmed its commitment to the "One China" policy, as it has bilateral relations with Beijing, but also maintains "close and good relations with Taiwan"./ REL

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