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German minister heading to Taiwan on a first such trip in 26 years

Germany’s education minister, Bettina Stark-Watzinger, is set to visit Taiwan early next week, marking the highest-level visit by a German official to the island in 26 years. The trip will focus on enhancing cooperation between Berlin and Taipei on semiconductors, according to a government spokesperson, and will not center around the issue of Taiwan’s sovereignty.

China claims Taiwan as part of its territory and has been increasing military, political, and economic pressure to assert those claims. However, the German government maintains that the visit does not indicate any change in position when it comes to its policy on Taiwan, which supports the European Union’s practice of cooperating with Taipei at the technical level.

The visit is not intended to send a message of support from Germany to Taiwan and will not include a meeting with President Tsai Ing-wen at the instruction of the German government to avoid irritating China.

The last cabinet-level German official to visit Taiwan was then-Economy Minister Guenter Rexrodt, a member of the same libertarian Free Democratic Party as Stark-Watzinger, in 1997.

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