(Berlin) Germany on Monday sent a frigate for the first military mission in the Indo-Pacific Basin in nearly 20 years, risking damaging already delicate ties with China.
The 139-meter-long warship ‘Bayern’ Wilhelmscheven was loaded with many sailors and soldiers from the port, especially the Americans, for a six-month mission to strengthen Germany’s presence in the area.
The trip will take him to Singapore, Japan, South Korea and Australia.
In the China Sea
The warship must also cross the South China Sea, an area rich in world maritime trade and natural resources, a key route to almost all Beijing claims.
Many neighboring countries, such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei or Vietnam, dispute the merits of these claims with Washington’s support.
The German mission should contribute to stability in the region and respect for international law, Defense Minister Annegret Cramp-Karenbauer explained before the departure of the ship.
“Security in the Indo-Pacific is also our security,” she said, adding that she qualified for the “big step and positive step” mission.
“We want to assume our responsibility in the administration of international law in this area,” said German diplomat Heiko Moss.
China’s growing claims
Last week, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told Singapore that Beijing’s growing claims in the South China Sea were “unfounded in international law”.
Germany is generally reluctant to participate militarily around the world and has often argued for less conflict with China.
But the tone changed in Berlin. The European Union imposed targeted sanctions on China in March over human rights abuses against the Muslim Uyghur minority. Beijing responded by granting European personalities.
The dispute risks endorsing the China-European investment agreement reached at the end of 2020.
Relations between China and Germany, the largest economy in Europe, are complicated by the close industrial ties between the two states.
German auto giant Volkswagen has a factory in Xinjiang province, where Western and American studies report on the mass intervention of extremists and the use of forced labor. Beijing has strongly denied the allegations.