(Bloomberg) -- China warned Germany’s incoming coalition against meddling in its internal affairs, hinting at potential damage to relations unless Berlin acknowledges its claim on Taiwan under the so-called one China policy.
“Past German administrations all upheld the one China policy, and we hope the new administration will keep to this policy, respect China’s core interest, and safeguard the political foundation for bilateral relations,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said at a regular briefing in Beijing on Thursday.
The warning shot came after Germany’s Chancellor-in-waiting Olaf Scholz unveiled a program for government that includes surprisingly strong language on China, pledging to call out China on human rights, urging Beijing to loosen its grip on Hong Kong and committing to back Taiwan’s participation in international organizations.
The policy platform, which is set to come into force with the new government’s installation next month, marks a shift from Angela Merkel’s policy toward Beijing and brings Europe’s biggest economy more into line with the Biden administration.
The change in tone is “striking,” and a “much needed reality adjustment,” Janka Oertel, director of the Asia program at the European Council of Foreign Relations in Berlin, said in a Twitter post.
Many of the references touch on Beijing’s so-called “red lines,” including the democratic island of Taiwan which China’s Communist Party considers its own despite never having ruled it. Under the one China policy countries with diplomatic ties with Beijing must not recognize the government in Taipei, which has been excluded from the United Nations since 1971.
The coalition agreement lays out plans to build relations with Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and India as part of a fledgling Indo-Pacific strategy that effectively asserts German interests in China’s backyard. It singles out Xinjiang as an area of particular concern regarding human rights and calls on China to maintain the “one country, two systems” principle toward Hong Kong.
It expects China to play “a responsible role for peace and stability in its neighborhood” and supports the resolution of disputes in the South China Sea and East China Sea on the basis of international law. It adds that “any change in the status quo in the Taiwan Strait can only be resolved peacefully and by mutual agreement.”
Zhao urged Germany to work with China to develop relations “and focus on practical cooperation, rather than the opposite.”
“I’d like to stress that issues related to Taiwan, South China Sea, Hong Kong, and Xinjiang are all China’s internal affairs,” Zhao said.
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