German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius on Saturday called on China to stop enlisting former German military pilots for the training of its own forces.
"I have made it clear that I expect this policy to be stopped immediately," Pistorius told reporters after meeting his Chinese counterpart at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, Asia's most important security conference.
He added the Chinese defense minister had not denied the practice of hiring former German military pilots, but played down its significance.
Pistorius did not give any further details in a recording of his comments that was distributed by the defense ministry in Berlin.
German news magazine Spiegel reported on Friday that former German fighter pilots have been training Chinese military pilots for years.
German security officials consider it highly likely that the pilots have been passing on expert military knowledge, such as the secret operational tactics of German forces and NATO, Spiegel said.
They may have even exercised attack scenarios that China may find useful for an offensive on Taiwan, Spiegel said, citing the security officials.
Pistorius said he had also pointed out to his Chinese counterpart the importance of upholding the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific, and stressed the importance of freedom of navigation in the region in order to keep maritime passages and trade routes open.
The minister is set to travel on to Indonesia and India as part of a longer Asia trip.
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