Germany is the latest country to deploy a military presence in the South China Sea, joining other Western nations in the region amid growing concerns over China’s territorial aspirations.
The U.S. Navy regularly conducts “freedom of navigation” operations in the area, in which their ships pass close by some of the sea’s contested islands. China has responded to the U.S. missions saying that they do not help in promoting peace or stability.
In a statement, German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said that the move is meant to uphold “freedom of navigation” in international waters, a call repeatedly made by the U.S.
The German Foreign Office also issued a statement over Twitter saying, “The #IndoPacific is where the international order of the future will be decided. We want to help shape it and to take on responsibility for upholding the rules‑based international order.– @HeikoMaas. Today the frigate “Bayern” departs towards Asia.”
German officials have stated that Germany will stick to commonly used trade routes, and is not expected to sail through the Taiwan Strait.
Berlin has made clear that the mission is set to stress the fact that Germany does not accept China’s territorial claims, a fine line to navigate as China is now one of Berlin’s most important trading partners.
The German Defence Ministry issued a statement saying: “The Indo-Pacific is where the international order of the future will be decided. We want to help shape it and to take on responsibility for upholding the rules‑based international order. Its mission is to support us in upholding international law and improving security in the Indo-Pacific together with our partners.”
The UK Defence Journal reported last week that the British aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, and its Carrier Strike Group have entered the South China Sea as tensions rise in the region.