Germany warns China over Taiwan, voices human rights concerns days after talks with Chinese premier

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German Chancellor Olaf Scholz addresses the German parliament Bundestag ahead of a European Council meeting at the Reichstag Building in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, June 22, 2023. A European Council meeting will held in Brussels on June 29 and 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Markus Schreiber)

BERLIN – German Chancellor Olaf Scholz warned Beijing on Thursday against using force to change the status quo with Taiwan and expressed concern about the human rights situation in China, days after holding bilateral talks with the new Chinese premier.

Scholz told German lawmakers that Berlin wants constructive relations with China because the country plays a key role in solving global problems such as food security, climate change and poverty.

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“At the same time we clearly urged China to stick to international rules,” he said of a recent declaration by the Group of Seven major economies. “No country is another's backyard — that is true for Europe as much as anywhere else in the world.”

“We strongly reject all attempts to change the status quo in the East and South China Sea by force or coercion,” said Scholz. “That is especially true for Taiwan.”

Beijing considers the self-governed island to be part of China and has been expanding its military presence in the region.

“We also view with concern the human rights situation and the rule of law in China,” he added. “I underlined these messages the day before yesterday during the German-China government consultations.”

Scholz's comments to parliament were significantly stronger than his public remarks at a joint statement Tuesday with Chinese Premier Li Qiang, who was on his first foreign trip since taking charge of the world's second-largest economy as premier in March. The chancellor didn't mention Taiwan explicitly as he spoke alongside Li.

Journalists were not permitted to ask questions at that event, a decision that Scholz's office attributed to the wishes of the Chinese delegation.

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