Why is this topic relevant? A delegation of German MPs, led by the head of the parliamentary defence committee, Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann (FDP), has been in Taiwan since Monday. They are scheduled to meet with Taiwanese leaders, including President Tsai Jing-wen. One of the members of the delegation is also FDP Vice-Chairman Johannes Vogel, who before the trip stressed the need for a common economic strategy of market democracies towards China, as well as the need to reduce Germany’s economic dependence on the country.
In response to this important visit, China responded with military exercises in the vicinity of Taiwan involving both naval and air forces, with Chinese aircraft also present in Taiwan’s air defence zone. Similar manoeuvres occurred last August in connection with the visit of Nancy Pelosi as then Speaker of the US House of Representatives. Communist China has long regarded democratic Taiwan as its territory and has seen such high-profile visits as a provocation.
In the context of the ongoing war in Ukraine, concerns have been growing in recent months that China might also try to annex Taiwan by force in the future. In response to Chinese manoeuvres, the US Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) has said that such an invasion would cost the lives of thousands of Chinese, Taiwanese, American and Japanese soldiers, not to mention heavy material losses.
How should the Czech Republic and the EU proceed? According to former NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in the event of a Chinese invasion, Europe must declare clear support for Taiwan, both in the form of military action and tough sanctions. Europe should take this firm stance primarily to deter and therefore prevent a potential Chinese invasion. According to Rasmussen, Europe is making the same mistake with China as it did with Russia in 2014: “The sanctions were too reluctant and vague and sent the wrong signal to Putin that he can take the rest of Ukraine at a low price.” The Czech Republic should thus advocate a clear European position within the EU Council against possible Chinese aggression.