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Taiwan trip about professional exchanges, not China: German minister

2023-03-23
Focus Taiwan
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German Federal Minister of Education and Research Bettina Stark-Watzinger (center); Kai Gehring (left), chairman of the Bundestag's education and research committee; and Jörg Polster, director general of German Institute Taipei are pictured at a news conference in Taipei on Wednesday. CNA photo March 22, 2023
German Federal Minister of Education and Research Bettina Stark-Watzinger (center); Kai Gehring (left), chairman of the Bundestag's education and research committee; and Jörg Polster, director general of German Institute Taipei are pictured at a news conference in Taipei on Wednesday. CNA photo March 22, 2023

Taipei, March 22 (CNA) Visiting German Federal Minister of Education and Research Bettina Stark-Watzinger said Wednesday that "professional exchanges" were the focus of her trip to Taiwan and not the issue of China.

Amid criticism from Beijing, the German minister told reporters in Taipei via an interpreter that her visit was in line with Berlin's China policy, adding she expected it to be "transparent and professional with no surprises."

Stark-Watzinger said she had consulted both German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and the country's foreign minister before her visit.

"Our focus is professional exchanges and the issue of China is not the topic here," she said.

Stark-Watzinger, the first German federal minister to visit Taipei since 1997, said that while such trips could become "routine," the decision on whether to come to Taiwan would be for individual ministers to decide.

Stark-Watzinger also noted Germany and Taiwan faced similar challenges with regard to brain drain in the semiconductor field, adding that regular exchanges with a partner that shares the same values of democracy and the rule of law were a must.

Earlier on Wednesday, Stark-Watzinger's 14-member delegation met with Taiwan's Education Minister Pan Wen-chung (潘文忠) to exchange views on Chinese language education and academic semiconductor institutions.

During its two-day trip, the delegation also made stops at National Taiwan University, the Siemens training center at Nangang Vocational High School, and the National Applied Research Laboratories Taiwan Semiconductor Research Institute, and witnessed the signing of a science and technology cooperation pact.

The last member of the German federal government to visit Taiwan was then Economics Minister Guenter Rexrodt in 1997.

On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin expressed Beijing's "strong disapproval" of Stark-Watzinger's "reprehensible" act of visiting Taipei.

"We call on the German side to respect the One China principle, immediately stop interacting and send the wrong signals to the 'Taiwan independence' separatist forces," Wang added.

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