May 26, 2024

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock set off on Wednesday on a week-long trip to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji where the focus will be on security policy and climate protection.

Baerbock noted that the region is becoming increasingly important to Germany for strategic and economic reasons, especially given tensions with China over human rights, trade and Taiwan.

Australia and New Zealand were “more directly exposed than we are to the violent gusts of wind that are being sent around the world by China’s increasingly offensive behaviour,” she said.

They had a lot of experience with their authoritarian neighbour, “whose foreign policy toolbox includes economic pressure and who also puts our democracies to the test through espionage and other influence operations.”

Three Germans were arrest on suspicion of spying for China in recent days. Beijing is also taking an increasingly aggressive stance in the disputed waters of the South China Sea and has threatened to invade the democratic island of Taiwan, which it views as its own territory.

The German government has resolved to become more involved in security policy in the Pacific and Indian Oceans and is sending a warship, the frigate Baden-Württemberg, there for the second time next week for training purposes.

“Security in Europe also depends on security in the Indo-Pacific – and vice versa,” Baerbock said. “If the international peace order comes under pressure on one side of the world, it will also crumble on the other side of the world.”

The Green politician pointed out that Australia and New Zealand are among the countries outside of NATO that are providing military and financial support to Ukraine as it fends off a Russian invasion.

Baerbock actually wanted to visit the countries last August, but had to cancel the trip after a stopover in Abu Dhabi, when her government plane developed a series of mechanical problems.

The trip has now been rescheduled with a slightly different itinerary. She travels to Adelaide in Australia on Wednesday, then on to the New Zealand city of Auckland on Friday evening and from there to Fiji, which extends over 300 islands in the South Pacific, on Sunday.

With a population of just under 1 million, Fiji is one of the countries most affected by climate change. Residents on some islands have already had to be evacuated because they face flooding from rising sea levels.

Baerbock will be the first German foreign minister to visit the island state.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock arrives at the airport before his trip to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. Sina Schuldt/dpaGerman Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock arrives at the airport before his trip to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. Sina Schuldt/dpa

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock arrives at the airport before his trip to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. Sina Schuldt/dpa

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