Germany’s balancing act in East Asia

The following article appeared in the February issue of The Parliament magazine

As news headlines go, “Education minister takes trip overseas” isn’t much of an attention-grabber. But it gains some heft when the minister in question is German, and the destination is Taiwan.

When Germany’s Minister of Education and Research, Bettina Stark-Watzinger, touches down in Taiwan, as she is scheduled to do in February, it will mark the first cabinet-level visit by a German official in 26 years. With Beijing increasingly hostile to the island nation, some in Taipei are hoping the visit signals a new direction in relations with Germany.

“This is not just a member of parliament but also the head of an important government ministry,” says Peter Heidt, a Free Democratic Party (FDP) colleague of Stark-Watzinger. “It’s a very good sign to Taiwan and the world that we have a great interest in closer co-operation.”

The trip follows visits to Taiwan by two Bundestag delegations in 2022, and a series of events in Taipei and Berlin aimed at bolstering ties.

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