Germany Sends 2 Warships to Indo-Pacific Amid CCP’s Increasing Aggression in Region

China observers say the recent military operations are the result of Germany’s strategic change, moving away from its previous decades-long China policy.

Germany sent two warships to the Indo-Pacific region on May 7, not ruling out crossing the Taiwan Strait. German land forces are also scheduled to have joint drills with Japan.

China observers say these are the most significant German military operations in decades, clearly aiming at the Chinese communist regime in response to its increasing aggression in the region.

The supply ship Frankfurt am Main set sail from Wilhelmshaven, Germany, while the frigate Baden-Wuerttemberg left the Spanish harbor of Rota. They will meet at sea and then sail to Halifax, Canada, and the Indo-Pacific.

The Chinese regime’s increasing military threats in the Taiwan Strait and expansion in the disputed South China Sea have caused tensions to rise in the region.

Federal Minister of Defense Boris Pistorius said at the northern German navy base in Wilhelmshaven before the ships’ departure that those tensions were putting pressure on the freedom of navigation and free passage on trade routes.

“Looking the other way, showing no presence in the Indo-Pacific in support of the international rules-based order, that’s not an option for Germany,” he said. “Presence matters.”

About 40 percent of Europe’s foreign trade passes through the South China Sea. The U.S.-led alliance has been patrolling the South China Sea and Taiwan Strait.

Regarding whether the German warships will travel through the Taiwan Strait, Mr. Pistorius said: “Since several allied navy vessels have passed [the Taiwan Strait], this obviously is an option. But no decision has been taken yet.”

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock told reporters during a visit to New Zealand on May 4 that German warships may transit the Taiwan Strait.

In 2021, a German warship sailed into the South China Sea for the first time in almost 20 years, participating in a joint military drill with other Western allies, including the United States.

According to Mr. Pistorius, the German army is scheduled to hold joint drills with the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force next year. This will be the first formal joint exercise between the two countries’ land forces since World War II.

Retired Maj. Gen. Yu Tsung-chi in Taiwan told the Chinese edition of The Epoch Times on May 8: “This also symbolizes that Germany has formally completed preparations for a military alliance with Japan for the first time after World War II. Of course, it is evident that it is aimed at the CCP [Chinese Communist Party].”

China's sand dredger is seen from an observatory in Kinmen, Taiwan, on Sept. 24, 2022. (Annabelle Chih/Getty Images)
China’s sand dredger is seen from an observatory in Kinmen, Taiwan, on Sept. 24, 2022. (Annabelle Chih/Getty Images)

He said the goal is “to deter the CCP from taking risky military actions against Japan, in the South China Sea, and the Taiwan Strait.”

Regarding Germany’s recent military actions, Su Tze-yun, director of Defense Strategy and Resources at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research in Taiwan, told the publication on May 8: “It’s mainly because of the continuation of the Russia–Ukraine war that Europe has gradually determined that the CCP is behind Russia. This will, of course, impact European security.”In July 2023, the German government published its first-ever comprehensive China strategy, changing the country’s most fundamental foreign and economic policy in the past few decades toward China, which is “change through trade.”

“China has changed and, therefore, we must change our approach,” the report reads.

It points out that “China’s relationship with Russia, in particular since Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, is an immediate security concern for Germany.”

“We must address this threat in Germany and at [the] European level with suitable means,” the report reads.

Mr. Su said of Germany’s China strategy, “This is the most important strategic turning point.”

This was a huge change, but not many people paid attention to it at the time.

“Once the policy has changed, there would be plans to implement it later,” he said, noting that the dispatch of the German warships is intended “to prevent the status quo in the Taiwan Strait from being changed.”

Map showing China, Taiwan, and the Taiwan Strait. (Central Intelligence Agency)
Map showing China, Taiwan, and the Taiwan Strait. (Central Intelligence Agency)

“The Taiwan Strait is the lifeline of the global economy. Germany feels that the CCP continues to exert pressure in the Taiwan Strait and coerce the Philippines in the South China Sea. Hence, the German government’s sending of the warships to the region is an official statement.”

Cheng Jing, Luo Ya, and Reuters contributed to this report.


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