Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock also wants to send a signal to China with her week-long trip to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. Before departing for the South Australian metropolis of Adelaide on Wednesday, she emphasized how important it was for democracies to stand together in competition with authoritarian systems. Australia and New Zealand would be hit “much more directly than we are by the violent gusts of wind that are being sent into the world by China’s increasingly offensive behavior,” said the Green politician. They have a lot of experience with their authoritarian neighbor, “whose foreign policy toolbox includes economic pressure measures and who also tests our democracies through espionage and other influence operations.”

Baerbock was alluding to the arrest of three Germans a few days ago on suspicion of spying for China. The most powerful country in Asia militarily and economically is also becoming increasingly aggressive towards its neighbors. The communist People’s Republic is fighting over maritime territory in the South China Sea with countries such as Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines and views the democratic island republic of Taiwan as its own territory. Beijing has repeatedly threatened to invade.

The federal government has decided to become more involved in security policy in the region around the Pacific and Indian Oceans and is therefore sending the frigate “Baden-Württemberg” there for the second time next week for training purposes. “Security in Europe also depends on security in the Indo-Pacific – and vice versa,” emphasized Baerbock. “If the international peace order comes under pressure on one side of the world, it will also crumble on the other side of the world.” The minister pointed out that Australia and New Zealand are among the countries outside NATO that provide military and financial support to Ukraine, which is being attacked by Russia.

More than 50 flight hours for 43,000 kilometers

Baerbock flies to Adelaide with a stopover on the Indonesian island of Bali. On Friday evening we continue to Auckland, New Zealand and from there on Sunday to Fiji, which extends over 300 islands in the South Pacific. The main focus there will be on climate change, the consequences of which affect Fiji more than almost any other country in the world. Because of rising sea levels, villages there are already having to be relocated.

On one of her longest trips to date, the minister will cover around 43,000 kilometers, which is equivalent to circling the globe, and spend more than 50 hours on the plane if all goes well. She actually wanted to go to Australia and Oceania in August, but was stranded on the way there in Abu Dhabi due to a series of breakdowns on her government plane and returned to Germany on a scheduled flight without having achieved anything.

Tour of patrol boats and return of cultural assets

Now the trip will be rescheduled with a slightly different route. In Adelaide, in addition to her political discussions, Baerbock will also visit the Osborne shipyard, where the Bremen-based company Lürssen builds patrol boats for the Australian Navy. This is intended to underline the willingness for greater arms cooperation with Australia.

A ceremony is also planned to return cultural objects that were sent to Germany by German missionaries in the 19th century to the Kaurna Aboriginal tribe. The Grassi Museum in Leipzig had already brought them back to Australia last year after the handover by Baerbock himself failed because the trip was canceled.