A conflict between China and Taiwan could draw Washington’s attention away from Kiev, EU reportedly fears
If US tension with China over Taiwan spirals out of control, it may come with the cost of support for Ukraine against Russia, officials in the EU reportedly fear. A switch of Washington’s hostile attention from Moscow to Beijing would be the “worst-case scenario” for European NATO members, Politico cites a European diplomat as saying.
At the moment, the rhetorical confrontations between Washington and Beijing over a possible visit to Taiwan by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is not a NATO issue, but “it could easily escalate,” the diplomatic source said, according to the article published on Monday. The outlet spoke to several EU sources about how the European economic bloc perceives the tensions over Taiwan.
Politico noted that up until recently most EU member states were cautious in their public comments about Taiwan and US rivalry with China, a major trading partner for the EU.
This contrasts with the rhetoric in former EU member the UK, where both Tory Party leadership candidates are seeking to take the helm after outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson pledged to be tough on Beijing. Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss alike pledged to maintain combative foreign policy as each campaigned for party members’ votes.
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Some EU officials have been quite vocal in warning China against using its military force to capture Taiwan. Brussels’ new ambassador to Beijing, Jorge Toledo, warned in July that “the EU, with the United States and its allies, will impose similar or even greater measures than we have now taken against Russia” over Ukraine, should China attack the island.
The self-governed territory was the last stronghold of Chinese nationalists during the 1940s civil war against communists. The US recognized the government in Taipei as representing the people of China for decades. But in 1979 Washington formally acknowledged the “One China” policy, which sets out Beijing’s claim of sovereignty over Taiwan, though it has never cut informal trade and defense relationships with the island.
The ongoing escalation of tensions comes as Pelosi is on a tour of several Asian-Pacific nations. The official itinerary of the trip does not include Taipei, but there has been much speculation that she could make a ‘surprise’ stop there.
Beijing reacted angrily, warning the US that may get burned if it “plays with fire” and launching a military exercise near Taiwan. It considers US policy regarding Taiwan as encouraging separatism and potentially violating China’s territorial integrity. The Chinese military has repeatedly stated that it was ready to act to protect the country.
Russia sent troops into Ukraine on February 24, citing Kiev’s failure to implement the Minsk agreements, designed to give the regions of Donetsk and Lugansk special status within the Ukrainian state. The protocols, brokered by Germany and France, were first signed in 2014. Former Ukrainian President Pyotr Poroshenko has since admitted that Kiev’s main goal was to use the ceasefire to buy time and “create powerful armed forces.”
In February 2022, the Kremlin recognized the Donbass republics as independent states and demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join any Western military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked.