German Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger landed in Taipei on Tuesday, making her the first sitting cabinet official to visit Taiwan in decades. To kick off the two-day visit, Stark-Watzinger signed a bilateral deal with self-governing Taiwan regarding science and technology.
"It's a great pleasure and honor for me to be the first minister heading a specialist government department to visit Taiwan in 26 years," Stark-Watzinger said in the Taiwanese capital.
The decision to visit Taiwan comes amid tensions with mainland China. Beijing denies Taiwanese sovereignty and has signaled that it could take over the island. China said it filed a diplomatic complaint with Germany regarding the visit. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Wenbin told reporters in Beijing that Germany "immediately stop associating and interacting with Taiwan independence separatist forces and immediately stop using the Taiwan issue to interfere in China's internal affairs."
German politicians, along with officials from other countries such as the US, have been visiting Taiwan in recent months to express solidarity, amid fears that China could launch an invasion of the island. Germany does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan. China rejects official ties with nations that recognize Taiwanese sovereignty. Germany's Foreign Ministry recently reiterated its "one China" policy, where it maintains formal diplomatic relations with China, but also close informal ties with Taiwan.
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