Germany’s Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer says Berlin wants to send a navy ship to the Indo-Pacific region for joint exercises with Australia next year.
- Germany’s Defence Minister says China poses a “major challenge”
- Beijing is accused of advancing territorial claims in the South China Sea during the pandemic
- Its military is looking to strengthen partnerships with like-minded countries, like Australia
“We want to increase our presence in joint exercises, we want to send German navy officers to work in Australian navy units, for example,” Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer said.
Acknowledging China’s importance as a trade partner, she warned Beijing was undermining a “rules-based world order” and said Berlin was looking to ramp up its presence in the Indo-Pacific region by teaming up with “like-minded” allies.
“China has its own ideas about individual freedoms, human rights, our Western idea of democracy,” Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer said.
Germany has recently developed a new Indo-Pacific strategy that aims to fortify its influence on the region.
Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer said Berlin was looking to send a “clear signal” about freedom of navigation in the region.
It follows accusations from Vietnam and the Philippines that Beijing is advancing its territorial claims to the South China Sea during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Not just for Germany but for Europe as a whole, we need a good and stable situation in the Indo-Pacific,” Ms Kramp-Karrenbauer said.
She also called China’s Belt and Road initiative — a global infrastructure push to create new trade routes around the world — a “challenge we have to react to”.
The Defence Minister reinforced Germany’s support for the “one country, two systems” policy in relation to Hong Kong.
“There must not be any territorial change against the wish of the other side and there must be no territorial change that is achieved by military means,” she said.
“As far as Taiwan is concerned, they are our partner. We share the same values and we want to protect the provisions of international law in order to make sure they are adhered to.”
Other European countries are also eyeing the region, with France also developing its own Indo-Pacific strategy last year.