German minister to visit Taiwan in first such trip in 26 years

12/13/2022 03:42 PM
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Bettina Stark-Watzinger, Germany
Bettina Stark-Watzinger, Germany's minister of education and research. Photo taken from Bettina Stark-Watzinger's Facebook

Berlin, Dec. 12 (CNA) Germany's Federal Minister of Education and Research Bettina Stark-Watzinger is scheduled to visit Taiwan next year, which would be the first time in 26 years that Taiwan will receive a visiting German ministerial-level official.

The news about Stark-Watzinger's planned visit to Taiwan was revealed on Monday by her Free Democratic Party (FDP) colleague Peter Heidt, who led the Bundestag's Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid on a visit to Taiwan in October.

A visit to Taiwan by Stark-Watzinger next year would be significant in enabling Germany to advance its relationship with Taiwan, Heidt told a forum in Berlin on Monday.

Digitalization, culture, academia, and legal affairs are some areas in which Germany and Taiwan can expand bilateral exchanges, Heidt said at the forum titled "Democracies in Dialogue: Democratic Change and Human Rights in Taiwan."

When Stark-Watzinger comes to Taiwan next year, she would become the first German ministerial-level official to visit the country in 26 years. The last time a German minister visited Taiwan was then Minister of Economic Affairs Günther Rexrodt in 1997.

Since German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his coalition, which includes the FDP, took office in December 2021, relations between Taiwan and Germany have warmed up, with Germany highlighting Taiwan as a "value partner" and an important economic partner.

Taiwan Culture Minister Lee Yung-te (李永得) visited Germany in June where he met with German Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media Claudia Roth at the Bundestag, while National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Minister Wu Tsung-tsong (吳政忠) also visited Germany as part of his trip to Europe in November and met with Stark-Watzinger.

The trips by Lee and Wu were both the first such visits made by Taiwan ministers from their respective government bodies.

Meanwhile, Petra Sigmund, director general for Asia and the Pacific in the German Federal Foreign Office, and Franziska Brantner, German parliamentary state secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action, both visited Taiwan this year.

The forum on Monday was held by the German-Taiwanese Association and was attended by Chen Chu (陳菊), chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission Taiwan, who is leading a delegation on a visit to France and Germany focusing on human rights issues.

(By Lin Yu-li and Shih Hsiu-chuan)


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