Germany sends frigates for China Sea mission

(Berlin) Germany sent a frigate on Monday on its first military mission in almost 20 years to the Indo-Pacific Basin, at the risk of damaging its already delicate relations with China.

Posted on 8/2/2021 11:43 AM

The 139 meter long warship “Bayern” lifted anchor with other sailors and soldiers on board from the port of Wilhelmshaven for a six-month mission to strengthen the German presence in the region alongside its allies, especially the Americans.

The journey takes him to Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Australia.

In the China Sea

The frigate must also cross the South China Sea, an important route for global maritime trade and an area rich in natural resources, almost all of which are claimed by Beijing.

Several neighbors such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam deny these claims, supported by Washington.

Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said before the ship left that the German mission must contribute to stability in the region and to respect for international law.

“Because security in the Indo-Pacific is also our security”, she judged and assessed the mission of “the big step and the positive step”.

“We want to live up to our responsibility in the organization of international law” in the region, said the head of German diplomacy Heiko Maas.

China’s growing demands

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told Singapore last week that Beijing’s growing claims in the South China Sea were “unfounded under international law.”

Germany is generally reluctant to engage in military action around the world and has often spoken out in favor of less confrontational relations with China.

But the tone has changed in Berlin. In March the European Union adopted a round of targeted sanctions against China for human rights violations against the Muslim Uyghur minority. Beijing responded by sanctioning European figures in return.

The controversy jeopardizes the ratification of the Sino-European investment agreement reached at the end of 2020.

Relations between Germany, Europe’s largest economy, and China are made particularly difficult by the close industrial ties between the two countries.

The German auto giant Volkswagen has a factory in the province of Xinjiang, where Western and American studies report on the mass internment of Uyghurs and the use of forced labor. Beijing firmly rejects these allegations.

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