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5 Dec, 2023 13:26

Former NATO chief urges EU to square up to China

Beijing taking control of Taiwan will cause “severe damage” to the bloc’s economic interests, Anders Fogh Rasmussen has warned
Former NATO chief urges EU to square up to China

Preventing military escalation by China against Taiwan should become a priority for the EU, former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said, as a summit in Beijing later this week brings the two face-to-face.

Washington understands the danger of the self-governed island falling under the control of Beijing, but “the same cannot be said for Europe,” Rasmussen, who headed the US-led military bloc between 2009 and 2014, overseeing its disastrous intervention in Libya, wrote in an opinion piece for the Financial Times on Monday.

Some EU leaders, like Lithuania’s Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte or the Czech President Petr Pavel, have shown support for “Taiwan’s democracy,” while others like French President Emmanuel Macron have been “less helpful,” Rasmussen said.

The former NATO chief recalled Macron’s declaration in April that the bloc “must not get caught up in crises that are not ours.” The message that Beijing got from this remark “was that an attack on Taiwan would be met with a divided response from the democratic world,” he argued.

“If China did wrest control of the island, it would cause severe damage to Europe’s economic interests,” Rasmussen pointed out.

Taiwan, a self-governed island of 23.5 million people that is viewed by China as part of its territory, “produces over 60% of the world’s semiconductors and about 90% of the most advanced ones. If Beijing controlled this manufacturing, it would have a chokehold on the global economy, placing European governments and firms in a position of weakness,” the former NATO boss warned.

With major trading routes going through the South China Sea, any military escalation in the Taiwan Strait would also cause “economic chaos” that could be “magnitudes higher than the global turmoil caused by wars in the Middle East and Ukraine, even by the pandemic," the former NATO chief added.

“Preventing military escalation by China in the Taiwan Strait should, therefore, be a priority for the EU,” Rasmussen insisted.

The leaders of the bloc will be “betraying their values” if they don’t raise the issues of Chinese “human rights abuses and military provocations” during an EU-China summit scheduled to take place in Beijing on Thursday and Friday, he claimed.

China has been saying that it’s looking for a peaceful reunification with Taiwan, but hasn’t completely ruled out a military option. Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu told German newspaper Tagesspiegel that “so far, we don’t see any concrete military preparations” for any attack by Beijing.

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