Germany will expand military presence in Indo-Pacific: Defense Chief
The German Defense Chief says the navy would send a fleet of additional ships to the Indo-Pacific region in 2024.
The German Defense Chief, General Eberhard Zorn, told Reuters that Germany will expand its military presence in the Indo-Pacific by sending additional warships and joining drills with allies as it keeps an eye on the "enormous" build-up of China's armed forces.
Zorn told Reuters that the German Armed Forces planned on sending troops to participate in training exercises in Australia next year, while the navy would send a fleet of additional ships to the Indo-Pacific region in 2024.
"This is how we want to consolidate our presence in the region," Zorn indicated during an interview at the Defense Ministry in Berlin.
In recent years, Germany's partners have called on the country to show more leadership, in line with its role as Europe's largest economy and most populous country.
In 2020, Germany - which became China's top trade partner in 2016 - published a new Indo-Pacific strategy, focusing on strengthening alliances in the region. Chancellor Olaf Scholz pledged in February a dramatic hike in spending on the military after the start of the war in Ukraine.
Tensions are already prevailing in the Indo-Pacific following mutual military drills between China and Taiwan after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's provocative visit to the island despite Beijing's warning to both Washington and Taipei against such trip.
Asked whether his country might send a warship to sail through the Taiwan Strait, the German general indicated that it was a sensitive matter decided upon at the highest political level.
"We do not want to provoke anyone with our presence but rather send a strong sign of solidarity with our allies," Zorn claimed, adding that "we stand for the freedom of navigation and the safeguarding of international norms."
Zorn explained that China's military strength once depended on its number of soldiers, but now its armed forces are technologically well-equipped.
"We are observing an enormous buildup of Chinese forces," he pointed out.
It is noteworthy that last year, Germany sent its first warship in almost 20 years to the disputed waters of the South China Sea. This month, it sent 13 military aircraft to joint exercises in Australia.