German Navy Chief Vows Long-Term Presence in Asia

A German warship deployed in the region will sail into the South China Sea to challenge Beijing’s claims

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On Tuesday, the head of Germany’s navy said the European country is committed to the Indo-Pacific region, where he said the so-called “rules-based international order” is being threatened by China, The Associated Press reported.

Vice Adm. Kay-Achim Schonbach’s comments came as the German frigate Bayern is in Tokyo, making it the first German warship to visit Japan in nearly 20 years. Last week, Japan announced that it was expanding military ties with Germany and the Bayern held joint exercises with Japanese warships.

The Bayern is set to sail into the South China Sea in an apparent challenge to Beijing’s claims to the waters. The US frequently sails warships into the disputed waters, and European countries are following. The UK and France have both sent warships into the South China Sea this year.

“The South China Sea is a global common, that is, a sea area that belongs to everyone, so it cannot be taken possession of or claimed by anyone if … we abide by the international world order,” Schonbach said.

Later this month, the Bayern will participate in sanctions enforcement against North Korea for three weeks. The frigate will monitor North Korean ships and look out for the transfer of cargo deemed prohibited by the UN.

The German presence in the region is part of the overall Western shift towards Asia to counter China. A key aspect of the Biden administration’s China policy is rallying allies against Beijing, and Europe seems eager to play along.

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