Germany plans to send its frigate to the Indo-Pacific in August with a passage to the South China Sea, becoming the first German warship to sail the contested sea since 2002.
|German Navy vessel 'Berlin' in the Mediterranean Sea near the Cretan town of Souda, Greece. Photo: the Federal Defence Forces of Germany/AFP/VNA|
The warship, will leave its home port of Wilhelmshaven at the beginning of August for a six-month journey and sail through the South China Sea (called East Sea by Vietnam) on its return journey.
The journey is in line with Germany’s “Policy guidelines for the Indo-Pacific region” adopted in September 2020.
The ship will not pass within what German officials called the “12-nautical-mile” in a reference to contested areas in the crowded sea, Reuters cited Germany’s officials.
However, it was said that the Federal Government understood the dispatch of the frigate as a sign to counter Chinese sovereignty claims in the South China Sea.
It was also said that Germany thereby reaffirmed the July 2016 ruling of the arbitral tribunal established under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
Germany’s ministerial sources said that the operation would protect “our multilateral, rule-based principles and values, such as our commitment to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea”.
Almost all the energy-rich South China Sea is claimed by China which has built a series of military outposts on artificial islands.
The US regularly sends its vessels to conduct “freedom of navigation” in the sea with many journeys close by to some of these islands, asserting freedom of access to international waterways.
Washington has repeatedly accused Beijing of militarizing the South China Sea and trying to intimidate Asian neighbors in exerting their legitimate rights within their territorial waters.