A German man who launched a petition urging the German government to establish diplomatic relations with Taiwan has said that he wanted to encourage public debate about Taiwan so that German society would learn more about the nation.
Michael Kreuzberg, 71, comes from Rostock on the Baltic Sea, which was once part of East Germany.
He submitted the petition on May 31 to the Bundestag, before posting it online on Sept. 11 to solicit signatures.
The petition has received enough signatures to be placed on the agenda of the Bundestag, which has decided to hold a public hearing on Dec. 9.
Kreuzberg introduced himself in an interview with the Central News Agency as a retiree who previously specialized in marine conservation.
In recent years, he has undertaken relief work in Ghana and the Philippines to help improve healthcare and education available to local children, he said.
Kreuzberg traveled to Taiwan last year with friends to witness ethnic Chinese not ruled by the Chinese Communist Party, he said, adding that they were deeply touched during their 10-day stay by the kindness of Taiwanese, and the freedom and democracy that they enjoy.
“Cross-strait relations made me think of East and West Germany,” Kreuzberg said.
In the 1970s, East and West Germany joined the UN as Taiwan withdrew, he said, adding that East Germans hated their autocratic government so much that they toppled the Berlin Wall 30 years ago, and voted for democracy by uniting with West Germany.
After living under a dictatorship, Kreuzberg said that he is especially concerned over Beijing suppressing human rights in Tibet and the Xinjiang region.
“It’s difficult for me to tolerate Germany’s association with China and my government’s reluctance to recognize democratic Taiwan,” he said.
This feeling has intensified since his visit to Taiwan, where he saw a well-functioning, independent nation, as well as friendly and open people, Kreuzberg added.
As a result, Kreuzberg decided to initiate the petition ahead of the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre to recommend that Berlin establish diplomatic ties with Taipei.
Before the Oct. 10 deadline, petition No. 95643 was signed online by 56,002 people, pushing it over the 50,000 threshold needed.
As required by German law, Kreuzberg, as petition initiator, will attend the public hearing of the Bundestag Petitions Committee, along with officials from the German Federal Foreign Office.
If the Bundestag votes in favor of the petition, German lawmakers will ask the government to forge formal relations with Taiwan, the Taipei Representative Office in Germany said.
Representative to Germany Shieh Jhy-wey (謝志偉) posted on Facebook how he looked up Kreuzberg by searching through the telephone book and succeeded in meeting with him in Berlin.
“We have a consensus,” Shieh wrote in the post. “We do not expect the German government to establish diplomatic links with Taiwan because of the petition, but with the public hearing, German society and media will report that Taiwan is a beacon of freedom and democracy that is worthy of being cherished.”
“This is what matters,” Shieh added.
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