Baerbel Bas speaks after being elected as new president of the Bundestag (lower house of parliament) on October 26, 2021, during a constituent session of Germany's new parliament at the Bundestag in Berlin. - Delegates of the Bundestag (lower house of parliament) will sit for the first time following the September elections, ushering in a post-Merkel era that is more female, younger and more ethnically diverse. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

The Human Rights Committee of the Bundestag is planning a trip to Taiwan for the end of October. It should be applied for at the beginning of September at the latest at the parliamentary presidency, as the German press agency learned from several members of the committee. The trip is not a reaction to the controversial visit by US MP Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan, but had been planned for some time. It is scheduled to take place between October 22nd and 30th and will go to Japan and Hong Kong in addition to Taiwan.

Possible protests by China against the trip are no reason for the CDU politician Michael Brand to refrain from doing so. “The Chinese leadership must be careful not to become just a threat-spewing dragon on the international stage. A little more Asian discipline would be appropriate,” said the human rights expert, who wants to travel to Taiwan. Despite all the threatening gestures, the democracies of this world will not be abandoned – on the contrary: “If we take ourselves seriously, then we must finally take China seriously and reject the threat.”

Among others, the FDP politician Peter Heidt and the Green MP Boris Mijatovic are to travel from the coalition. Mijatovic points out that Taiwan is also an important trading partner for Germany, especially when it comes to semiconductor technology. Therefore, such a parliamentary trip is “normal”, he said.

China regards democratic Taiwan as part of its national territory and therefore strictly rejects official contacts from other countries to Taipei. Pelosi’s visit had escalated tensions with China this week. The People’s Liberation Army of China announced target practice maneuvers around the island and near the coast by Sunday, designating six restricted areas.

MEPs from all six parliamentary groups are expected to take part in the trip of the Bundestag committee, probably two each from the two largest groups SPD and CDU/CSU. The delegation would thus include a total of eight parliamentarians.

There have also been trips by members of the Bundestag to Taiwan in the past. The Human Rights Committee last planned a visit in 2020, which was canceled due to Corona. As an alternative, the committee received Taiwan’s representative in Germany, Jhy-Wey Shieh, in the Bundestag for a discussion event.

On Thursday, Shieh spoke out in favor of a trip to his country by a Bundestag delegation led by Parliament President Bärbel Bas. “The inhibitions to travel to Taiwan must fall,” he told the daily mirror.

However, the Bundestag administration has already made it clear that the SPD politician Bas has no travel plans. According to them, there is an agreement between the seven “sovereignty-relevant offices” not to have personal contact with their respective counterparts in Taiwan. This refers to the Federal President and the heads of the four other constitutional bodies (Bundestag, Bundesrat, Federal Government, Federal Constitutional Court) as well as the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defense.

Incidentally, Pelosi’s visit was not the first trip by parliamentarians to Taiwan that caused a stir. Two years ago, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi responded with threats to a trip by Czech parliamentarian Milos Vystrcil. Vystrcil will have to pay a “heavy price” for his “short-sighted behavior,” he said. The Chinese ambassador to Germany, Wu Ken, said in an interview at the time how he would react to a trip by German parliamentarians to Taipei: “We reject any official contact with Taiwan.”