South China Sea: Chinese, German defence ministers discuss Beijing’s claims over waterway
- Pandemic, human rights and concerns about Uygurs in Xinjiang among topics covered by Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and Wei Fenghe
- Germany is expected to send a frigate through the disputed waters next month, its first warship to make the crossing since 2002
General Wei focused on recent celebrations marking the Communist Party centenary and urged Berlin to “properly manage disagreements” through dialogue, according to the Chinese defence ministry statement.
“[We] hope Germany will join China in upholding multilateralism, resist politicising the coronavirus pandemic, rejecting a zero-sum game [in geopolitics] and defending global justice,” Wei was quoted as saying.
“Both sides should strengthen strategic communication, continue with exchanges in existing mechanisms and properly manage disagreements, to push for the stable development of the two armies,” he added, according to the statement.
Germany and European allies such as Britain and France have vowed to boost their military presence in the region under their respective Indo-Pacific guidelines. The United States, which regularly conducts “freedom of navigation” operations in the South China Sea, has applauded engagement by its Nato allies as it views such patrols as asserting freedom of access to international waterways.
After Berlin announced in March it would send a naval frigate through the South China Sea, Beijing said any country could sail in international waterways but warned that this was not “an excuse to undermine the sovereignty and security of littoral countries”.