A group of six German parliamentarians arrived in Taiwan on Sunday at the start of a five-day visit that will include meetings with President Tsai Ing-wen, Vice President Lai Ching-te, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, and the country’s parliamentary speaker, You Si-kun, German media and news agencies have reported.

The cross-party delegation, led by Klaus-Peter Willsch of the opposition Christian Democrats, said the trip aims to assess Taiwan’s security situation on the ground and gain an overview of the country’s economic and political development.

The delegation was to examine “issues regarding the political, economic and social situation, bilateral relationships, and the development of relations on the two sides of the Taiwan Strait,” the Federal Press Office said on Friday.

“The tense security situation caused by the tensions with the People’s Republic of China is to play a particular role,” the office said.

The visit comes just two months after a Taiwan trip by the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, brought a vehement reaction from Beijing, which considers the island as part of China and has frequently threatened to bring it under Chinese control.

A delegation of French lawmakers also visited Taiwan in early September.

Why are the German delegates visiting?

Germany has no official diplomatic ties with Taiwan but has maintained friendly relations, including close economic, cultural, and academic cooperation.

Till Steffen, a delegation member from the co-ruling Green Party, told DW ahead of the visit that the trip aimed “to show our friendship to Taiwan.”

“Taiwan is a democracy and it’s important for us to be in contact, to have cooperation with other democracies,” he said, adding that it would be a “negative signal” to Taiwan not to conduct such a visit at a time when China is increasing its threats of taking the island.

He said that the visit respected Germany’s acceptance of the “One China” policy and China’s sensitivities in that it involved members of parliament but none from the government itself.

“I think China should not interfere in this cooperation because we strengthen democracies in Germany and Taiwan with it,” he said.

Criticism of the visit was, however, forthcoming from the Chinese side, with a government spokesman calling, in comments to the dpa news agency, for the German delegation to adhere to the “One China principle” and “immediately cease” any interactions with pro-independence elements in Taiwan.

tj/sms (dpa, AFP)

This article was originally published on Deutsche Welle. Read the original article here.

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