At a meeting with Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius called for the cooperation with former Bundeswehr pilots to be stopped immediately. According to the media, he fears high treason on the part of the ex-pilots.
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius during a meeting with his Chinese counterpart Li Shangfuat a forum in Singapore on Saturday called for an “immediate” end to cooperation with former members of the German Air Force who work as trainers for the training of fighter pilots in China. Speaking on the sidelines of the Shangri-La Dialog security forum in Singapore after speaking with Li, Pistorius said:
“I have made it clear that I expect this practice to be ended immediately, regardless of us.”
According to the minister, he also made it clear to his counterpart “that he would certainly not be amused if I tried it myself”. However, Pistorius noted that the Chinese defense minister was very reluctant to respond to his request. He said Li has not denied the practice of recruiting former German pilots but downplayed its importance.
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The conversation between Pistorius and Li at the end of the security forum on Saturday lasted more than an hour instead of the planned 30 minutes. The German defense minister described it as very open and informative.
German media had previously reported that former members of the Bundeswehr had found jobs in China through companies in South Africa and New Zealand and were receiving high salaries for passing on their knowledge to Chinese pilots.
The mirror reported that the German Defense Ministry feared treason by several former German Air Force personnel who work as instructors for training Chinese fighter pilots. Controversial chair of the defense committee and arms lobbyist Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann told the magazine:
“The fact that former air force soldiers train fighter jet pilots after their service in China is absurd, we cannot accept that.”
Beijing did not comment on the issue. However, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin had denied knowledge of such employment last year in response to similar allegations by Britain.
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