The possibility of a Chinese military attack on Taiwan is being talked up in the mainstream news media, provoking fear, and anxiety long before the talk about the visit to Taiwan by USA House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
One example of this was seen after China recently introduced the idea of “military operations other than war” in a report. This was framed in relation to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The risk of scaremongering in the absence of an imminent threat is that we can run into the so-called ‘crying wolf scenario’ whereby hearers become both tired and complacent. Eventually, a real situation of imminent danger – when, and if, it comes – isn’t taken as seriously as it needs to be. Instead, we need to read the actual signs of the times, react to them and demand concrete reactions from the democratic allies of Taiwan. The real signs of danger may not only be military in nature, they may equally be political and economic.
There are no reasons to be naive of course. China’s increased pressure on private companies such as hotels and airlines to list Taiwan as a part of China, altering UN documents, claiming the entire Taiwan Strait as Chinese and Chinese military airline planes that continue to fly into Taiwan air identification zone – all of these warrant a stronger response from EU and others.
Such a response could be allowing free and direct talks between all Taiwan ministers (including Presidents) and the European public by allowing all members of Taiwan’s government to visit Europe, and thus expanding on the precedent already set in which Taiwan’s Economics Minister engaged directly with the Director-General for Trade at the European Commission. Another avenue would be to allow the export of weapons to Taiwan from EU or to start negotiations on a free trade agreement between EU and Taiwan.
It is time to be more vocal about our support for Taiwan and to remember that Taiwan’s allies in EU, USA and Asia are not sitting still. We just believe that the responses should be clearer, increase in number and be concrete in nature.