In light of recent regional tensions involving China and Taiwan as well as the disputed South China Sea, German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius announced on Sunday at an international summit that his country will send two warships to the Indo-Pacific region next year.
In a speech on Sunday at the Shangri-La Dialogue security conference in Singapore, Pistorius emphasised the need of respecting the maritime route, which is used by almost 40% of European foreign trade.
At the conference, Pistorius said, “To this end, the German federal government sent a frigate to the Indo-Pacific in 2021, and will again, in 2024, deploy maritime assets.” The conference was attended by several of the world’s most powerful defence officials.
A frigate and a supply ship will be among these assets, according to Pistorius, who also emphasized that the marine deployment was not being made to retaliate against any one actor in the area. He continued, “To the contrary they are dedicated to the protection of the rules-based international order that we all signed up to and which we all should benefit from.”
Germany and China still have strong commercial ties, but as Germany tries to balance its security and economic objectives, the deployment of the warships to the South China Sea in 2024 may cause problems.
Germany had sent its first battleship to be deployed in the area in nearly two decades in 2021. In response to worries about China’s territorial ambitions, particularly in relation to Taiwan, other Western nations have also strengthened their military presence in the region.
China has declared that it has sole maritime jurisdiction over the South China Sea. However, Beijing’s territorial claim to the waters was categorically denied by a tribunal in accordance with the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea nearly seven years ago. China has nevertheless installed military settlement on a minimum three island in the region.
Beijing last month expressed its “significant displeasure” over a German government minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger’s trip to Taiwan, which Beijing considers as a breakaway province. China routinely chastises Western countries for holding diplomatic talks with officials in Taipei, which it considers to be a part of its sovereign territory according to the ‘One-China’ principle.
At the same conference on Saturday in Singapore, Pistorius stated that he had “made it clear” to Beijing that he wanted it to stop using former German military pilots as trainers for its own troops. This came before a Friday article in the German weekly publication Spiegel that said China has been receiving this type of training for years and that security officials in Berlin were worried about the military expertise of German and NATO forces being shared with China.