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China's belligerence likely to expand beyond Taiwan

German lawmaker Peter Heidt says global democratic community must stop Chinese aggression

German lawmaker Peter Heidt. (Taiwan News, Kelvin Chen photo)

German lawmaker Peter Heidt. (Taiwan News, Kelvin Chen photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — China’s aggressive actions are reminiscent of imperialism and are likely to extend beyond Taiwan, German lawmaker Peter Heidt said at a press conference on Tuesday (Oct. 25).

Heidt said Germany and the global democratic community need to find a way to stop the expansion of China’s authoritarianism.

Over the past three days, the lawmaker led a human rights Bundestag delegation to meet with NGOs and top government officials, including President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Foreign Minister Joseph Wu (吳釗燮), Cabinet Spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成), Minister without Portfolio Huang Chih-ta (黃致達), and Digital Minister Audrey Tang (唐鳳). Though their trip was short, the group discussed the global battle between authoritarianism and democracy currently and learned more about how Taiwan is responding to the Chinese threat, Heidt said.

Following the 20th National Congress, Xi Jinping (習近平) has become a dictator and everyone must obey his demands—no one can oppose him, the lawmaker said.

Heidt said Germany should deepen relations with Taiwan in all ways. Even though the delegation is comprised of all parliamentarians, the Bundestag can still offer suggestions to the German government on how to boost bilateral ties, he said.

The lawmaker told Taiwan News the group will take what it learned from Taiwanese experts back to their country to deepen cooperation in fields such as trade, science, and culture. One urgent issue is fake news, Heidt pointed out.

Germany can learn how Taiwan addresses China’s disinformation campaign in order to battle similar challenges it faces from Russia, he said.

Parliamentarian Boris Mijatovic also echoed Heidt’s concerns about fake news. He said that the group has learned a lot from Taiwan, though Germany’s disinformation warfare is mostly against false television reports.

Meanwhile, Germany can share its experience in international criminal law with Taiwan.

As for whether or not China’s aggression will spread to other parts of the world, Mijatovic said they would have to see what Beijing’s next steps are.

Commenting on the significance of their trip, he said, “Our visit here shows that (Taiwan and Germany) stand together as democracies and stand of values.”

“This is a term that is often used in past days but it’s substantial. You can count on this,” he added.

Parliamentarian Derya Turk-Nachbaur said the democratic community must contain China and prevent the regional situation from deteriorating. “We need to let China know that if it attempts to invade Taiwan, the costs will be extremely high,” she said.

She said that there is still a lot more room for cooperation between Taiwan and Germany, adding that collaboration in the areas of science and law have been particularly good.

Turk-Nachbaur said Xi must know that if he tries to attack Taiwan, the costs will be very high.

Parliamentarian Michael Brand said China is closely observing the developments of the war in Ukraine. Russia thought it could declare victory in a short amount of time, so it tried to launch a rapid campaign.

However, it did not expect western countries to unite and place heavy-hitting sanctions on Moscow so quickly, Brand said. Ukrainians were also very eager to pick up arms to fight against Russian forces, he said.

Thus, China is definitely taking the war in Ukraine into consideration as it ponders whether and when to attack Taiwan, Brand said. He emphasized that Taiwan needs international friends and said throughout this trip, he repeatedly underscored Germany’s friendship with Taiwan and that it can count on Germany.

The delegation is scheduled to depart Taiwan on Wednesday (Oct. 26) and head for Japan, where they will also discuss human rights issues with Japanese government officials. Heidt said that given Germany and Japan both advocate Taiwan’s democracy, the two countries may jointly voice support for Taiwan in some form or another in the future.