EU braces for risk of escalation between China and US amid growing tensions in Taiwan - POLITICO

EU braces for risk of escalation between China and US amid growing tensions in Taiwan – POLITICO

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The escalating war of words between the US and China over Taiwan “could easily escalate” and is being watched closely in European capitals, according to senior diplomats.

Tensions between the world’s two biggest superpowers are rising as Beijing strengthens its position. threats over possible visit US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan in the coming days.

From Brussels to Paris, EU officials are reluctant to weigh this dispute in public, even as China approaches the risk of a military confrontation with the US. Behind the scenes, however, European diplomats acknowledge that there is a clear danger that the situation could spiral out of control.

Analysts are now urging EU leaders to pay attention and prepare for the trouble ahead.

“Sometimes the worst-case scenarios come true,” said Boris Ruge, vice chairman of the Munich Security Conference, citing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as an example. “Europeans should prepare for the contingency by supporting Taiwan while remaining in close contact with Beijing and helping to de-escalate.”

Pelosi announced on Sunday that she is taking a Congressional delegation on a tour of Asia. The stopover in Taiwan, which provoked a fierce reaction from Beijing, was rumored not to have been mentioned in her official itinerary, but could still happen.

China insists that Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan would be a flagrant violation of the “one China” policy governing the status of the territory and a signal of American support for Taiwan independence.

Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed his position last week during a tense conversation with Joe Biden. “Those who play with fire will die from it,” Xi Jinping was quoted as saying by the Chinese Foreign Ministry. “There is hope that the US will clear this up.” The Chinese Defense Ministry warned that “the Chinese military will never sit idly by” if Pelosi’s trip goes ahead.

Analysts believe Xi will be willing to show resolute calm at any sign that the US is trying to support Taiwan independence, in part because he is seeking a norm-breaking third term this fall.

Britain offered to arm Taiwan, warning that the West should not make the same mistake of failing to stand up for the Taiwanese as it did with Ukraine. German Foreign Minister Annalena Berbock recently described China’s “confident and, above all, strong appearance” towards Taiwan as a “global challenge.”

In public, however, most other European capitals were more careful in their comments. Asked about the threat of China’s military response to Pelosi’s visit, the French foreign ministry and the EU’s foreign policy arm declined to comment.

One EU diplomat said that silence should be expected at this stage, given that Taiwan is primarily seen as a US interest, but “the reaction will be different if words translate into action.”

looked carefully

Asked if NATO is worried about tensions, a senior European diplomat replied: “Not yet, but it could easily escalate.” In the “worst case scenario,” America’s attention would be diverted from Ukraine to tensions with China over Taiwan, according to a senior diplomat.

A third senior European diplomat said the risk of a clash between Washington and Beijing is “closely monitored.”

Urmas Paet, vice chairman of the European Parliament’s foreign affairs committee, warned that the escalating war in Ukraine has increased the risk of Chinese aggression against Taiwan “exponentially.”

“The European Union should also be able to monitor China’s actions, including with respect to Taiwan,” Paet said. “Full cooperation between the EU and the US is very important both in terms of Russian aggression against Ukraine and in connection with China’s actions in the neighborhood.”

Until recently, Europe avoided talking about Taiwan, a democratic island of 23 million that Beijing claims is part of China. The mood further deteriorated when China promised Russia a “borderless partnership” and followed the Kremlin’s line in a 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 a military step against Taiwan.

“In the event of a military invasion, we have made it very clear that the EU, together with the United States and its allies, will take the same or even more serious measures than we have now taken against Russia,” the new EU ambassador to China said. Jorge Toledo, said earlier this month.

Clea Colcutt contributed reporting

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