Baerbock in China: Clear words about arms deliveries to Moscow

Status: 04/14/2023 09:28 a.m

China has pledged not to sell arms to Russia. Otherwise, the People’s Republic kept a low profile on the Ukraine war during the visit of the Federal Foreign Minister. Baerbock’s criticism of human rights was clear.

During her visit to China, Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock once again called on the government of the People’s Republic not to supply Russia with any weapons that could be used in the war against Ukraine. Although her Chinese counterpart Qin Gang ruled out arms deliveries, he left open a back door in the export of goods with possible military use.

At a joint press conference, however, Baerbock emphasized that it is of the utmost importance not to allow any arms deliveries to Russia and also to prevent Russia from using so-called dual-use goods. Such goods can be used for both civilian and military purposes, including IT technology or software, but also chemicals, for example.

And it was precisely on the latter point that the Chinese foreign minister’s response was cautious. He assured that his country would not deliver weapons to crisis areas or parties to the conflict. The export of dual-use goods will continue to be checked in accordance with the legal requirements applicable in China.

Baerbock: China must use its influence on “aggressor Russia”.

Like Chancellor Olaf Scholz before him during his visit to Beijing in November, Baerbock also urged China to work to ensure that the war against Ukraine can be ended peacefully. “One man can end this war tomorrow,” emphasized the Green politician – and that is Russian President Vladimir Putin. “And no other country has as much influence on Russia as China,” added Baerbock.

The foreign minister also referred to China’s permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council – a position that comes with responsibility. And that’s why Baerbock asked why China hadn’t asked the “aggressor Russia” to “stop this war.”

Qin reiterated that China will “not add fuel to the fire”. The government of the People’s Republic is committed to promoting reconciliation and advancing peace negotiations.

Baerbock warns of escalation in the Taiwan conflict

In addition to the war against Ukraine, Baerbock also addressed the conflict between China and Taiwan. Taiwan considers itself an independent state, from the point of view of the Chinese government it is still part of its own national territory. Like many other Western countries, Germany has not yet recognized Taiwan as a sovereign state.

Baerbock appealed to China that this conflict must be resolved peacefully – “with all due respect for the sensitivity of the Taiwan question” and “as firmly as we stand by a one-China policy”. The minister emphasized the economic importance of Taiwan. For example, around 70 percent of all semiconductors produced worldwide came from there.

A “destabilization” of the Taiwan Straits “would have dramatic consequences for every country in the world” and “for the entire world economy”. Should the conflict escalate, the “shock waves” would also hit China and Germany as trading nations.

Human rights in China are “more and more curtailed”

With a view to the economic cooperation between the Federal Republic of Germany and China, Baerbock still sees a lot of potential, for example in the expansion of green technology or in jointly combating the climate crisis. But she also warned: The “German constitutional state enables fair conditions for Chinese companies” – and that must be based on reciprocity. “Opportunities at eye level” are a prerequisite for fair exchange and competition.

Through the economic aspect, Baerbock also bridged the gap to the subject of human rights. She warned that international standards must be observed in business and in companies. “Where companies gain advantages at the expense of human rights, there is no fair competition,” she emphasized.

Since the observance of human rights is also “in our economic interest”, the federal government is concerned that “freedom for civil law engagement is shrinking more and more” and “human rights are being curtailed more and more” in China.

In this context, Baerbock referred to the report on the situation of the Muslim Uyghur minority in the Chinese province of Xinjiang presented by the then UN Human Rights Commissioner Michelle Bachelet at the beginning of September. In the report, Bachelet accused China of serious human rights violations, including torture, discrimination and ill-treatment.

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