Berlin warns Beijing not to make 'threats' against Europe allies

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at a media briefing in Berlin on Tuesday, where Mr Maas emphasised that Europe would not be intimidated.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at a media briefing in Berlin on Tuesday, where Mr Maas emphasised that Europe would not be intimidated.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BERLIN • German Chancellor Angela Merkel's top diplomat warned China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi against making "threats" towards European allies, as Mr Wang reinforced his accusation that a Czech lawmaker's visit to Taiwan had crossed a red line.

On the final stop of Mr Wang's five-nation swing through Europe, he was confronted by German Foreign Affairs Minister Heiko Maas for saying that the Czech Senate president would pay a "heavy price" for his Taiwan visit.

Mr Maas said he had spoken by phone with his Czech counterpart and emphasised that Europe would not be intimidated.

"We as Europeans act in close cooperation - we offer our international partners respect, and we expect the exact same from them," Mr Maas said on Tuesday, at a 50-minute media briefing in Berlin alongside Mr Wang. "Threats don't fit in here," Mr Maas added.

Mr Wang stood his ground, saying that the one-China principle serves as the political foundation of China-Czech relations, and that Czech Senate president Milos Vystrcil's visit was an intervention in China's internal affairs and a violation to which the government in Beijing had to respond.

"China must tell the Czech Senate president, you've crossed the line," Mr Wang said, referring to Mr Vystrcil and his 90-member delegation, including Prague Mayor Zdenek Hrib.

Mr Wang said that China is the victim rather than the troublemaker, noting that with regard to safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity, China must lay out its clear stand.

During the briefing, Mr Wang was also pressured on China's stance on Hong Kong, the government's response to the coronavirus pandemic, his assertive comments during his week-long European tour and China's treatment of ethnic Uighurs in Xinjiang.

Mr Wang issued an extended defence of Chinese policy, reiterating warnings that accusations against Beijing constitute an intervention in the country's internal affairs. He also denied that China sought to disrupt relations.

The tensions overshadowed issues including a European Union-China investment accord, which Dr Merkel's government had aimed to complete by the end of the year.

Mr Maas said the 27-member bloc would assert its sovereignty and would not become a "play thing" as the United States, China and Russia shake geopolitical foundations.

THREATS DON'T FIT IN HERE

We as Europeans act in close cooperation - we offer our international partners respect, and we expect the exact same from them. Threats don't fit in here.

GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER HEIKO MAAS, speaking on Tuesday at a briefing in Berlin alongside China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

CROSSED A RED LINE

China must tell the Czech Senate president: You've crossed a red line.

MR WANG YI, speaking at the same briefing.

In a statement yesterday, Mr Maas said the Indo-Pacific region is a priority of German foreign policy.

He said Germany wanted to strengthen its relations with that part of the world and help shape the order "so that it is based on rules and international cooperation, not on the law of the strong".

Mr Wang had started the European trip saying relations with Europe should not suffer due to Beijing's intensifying stand-off with US President Donald Trump, who has touted his strong stance against China.

Mr Wang said China and the EU are facing an important opportunity to develop better bilateral relations.

BLOOMBERG, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 03, 2020, with the headline 'Berlin warns Beijing not to make 'threats' against Europe allies'. Subscribe