Press play to listen to this article
According to senior diplomats, the escalating war of words between the US and China over Taiwan “could easily escalate” and is being watched closely in European capitals.
Tensions are rising between the world’s two biggest superpowers as Beijing pitches its threats on the potential meeting In Taiwan by US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the coming days.
From Brussels to Paris, EU officials have been reluctant to publicly weigh the dispute, even as China nears the risk of a military standoff with the US, however, European diplomats acknowledge that the obvious There is a danger that the situation may spiral out of control.
Analysts are now urging EU leaders to pay attention and be prepared for further trouble.
“Sometimes the worst happens,” Boris Rouge, deputy chairman of the Munich Security Conference, cited Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an example. “Europeans would do well to be prepared for contingencies, support Taiwan while in close contact with Beijing, and help demilitarize.”
Pelosi announced On Sunday, she is taking a Congress delegation on a tour of Asia. A rumored shutdown in Taiwan – which has provoked a fierce backlash from Beijing – was not mentioned in its official itinerary, but may still happen.
China insists that Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan would be a gross violation of the “one China” policy governing the status of the region, and would be a sign of US support for Taiwan’s independence.
Chinese President Xi Jinping outlined his position during a tense call with Joe Biden last week. “Those who play with fire will be destroyed by it,” China’s foreign ministry quoted Xi as saying. “Hopefully America will be clear about this.” China’s defense ministry has warned that “the Chinese military will never sit idly by” if Pelosi’s visit goes ahead.
Analysts believe that Xi would like to show a firm rest to any signs moving by the US to support Taiwan independence, as he seeks an ideal-breaking third term in office this fall. are.
The UK has suggested arming Taiwan, warning that the West should not make the same mistakes in failing to stand up for Taiwan as it did on Ukraine. German Foreign Minister Annalena Berbock recently described the “confident and China’s strongest presence” in relation to Taiwan as “a global challenge”.
In public, however, most other European capitals have been more cautious in their comments. When asked about China’s threatening military response to Pelosi’s visit, the French foreign ministry and the European Union’s foreign policy arm would not comment.
An EU diplomat said silence is to be expected at this stage, as Taiwan is primarily of US interest, but “if words become actions the response will be different.”
Asked whether tensions are a concern for NATO, a senior European diplomat said: “Not yet, but it could easily escalate.” The senior diplomat said that in a “worst-case scenario” US attention will shift from Ukraine to tensions with China.
A third senior European diplomat said the risk of escalating clashes between Washington and Beijing was “being watched closely.”
Urmas Pat, deputy chairman of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, warned that the intensifying Ukraine war has increased the risk of “rapid” Chinese aggression towards Taiwan.
“The EU should also be able to monitor China’s actions regarding Taiwan,” Pat said. “Full cooperation between the EU and the US with regard to Russian aggression against Ukraine and China’s actions in our neighbourhood is of great importance.”
Until relatively recently, Europe shied away from talking about Taiwan – a democratic island of 23 million, which Beijing claims is part of China. The mood soured further as China promised a “no-border partnership” with Russia, and pushed up the Kremlin line on its so-called “special military operation” against Ukraine.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine has prompted European policymakers to consider the previously unimaginable consequences of imposing economic sanctions on the world’s second-largest economy if Beijing takes military action against Taiwan.
“In the event of a military offensive, we have made it clear that the European Union, along with the United States and its allies, will apply the same or even greater measures against Russia than has been taken so far,” the EU’s arrival in China said. The Ambassador, George Toledo, Told earlier this month.
Clea Caulcutt contributed reporting