Senior diplomats from the European Union are preparing behind the scenes for a serious escalation between the United States and China over the diplomatic status of the island nation of Taiwan.
Politico reports that despite the publicized tensions, which have been rising after it was revealed that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is planning a trip to Taiwan, most European officials have been reluctant to speak out or pick a side. But as the war of words escalates, and the possibility of an actual military standoff significantly increases, some have warned that it is no longer possible to stay out of the conflict.
“Worst-case scenarios sometimes do come to pass,” said Boris Ruge, vice chair of the Munich Security Conference. “Europeans would do well to prepare for contingencies, backing up Taiwan while remaining in close contact with Beijing, and helping to de-escalate.”
On Sunday, Pelosi confirmed that she would be traveling to Asia with a congressional delegation; although Taiwan is not listed on her itinerary, there is still speculation that the delegation could make an unannounced stop there at some point.
In response to the speculation, China swiftly condemned Pelosi, warning that such a trip would be in violation of the long-standing “One China” policy which declares that Taiwan is not a separate nation, but merely a part of China.
“Those who play with fire will perish by it,” China’s foreign ministry said on behalf of President Xi Jingping last week, during a phone call with Joe Biden. “It is hoped that the U.S. will be clear-eyed about this.”
“[The] Chinese military will never sit idly by” if Pelosi does indeed travel to Taiwan, the threat continued.
However, opinions remain divided within Europe. The United Kingdom has suggested that the West provide arms and other forms of foreign aid to Taiwan, in order to prepare for a possible repeat of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine earlier this year. Others have dismissed the idea that Europe should be invested in Taiwan, saying that the island nation is more of a U.S. interest than a European one.