Borrell’s speech marks shift in EU’s stance on China’s threats to Taiwan

Get a free Techzine subscription!

The EU’s foreign policy chief has significantly added to the bloc’s rhetoric concerning China’s threat to Taiwan. In what has been billed the most comprehensive chief yet on Taiwan, which China considers its territory, Joseph Borell on Tuesday raised concerns regarding Beijing’s escalation of military activities in the Taiwan Strait.

He said that these moves may have an impact on European security, given that Taipei’s microchips are indispensable to Europe’s development.

Between the national days in Beijing and Taipei, about 150 Chinese military aircraft entered Taiwan’s airspace in early October.

Breaking out of diplomatic reins

The speech marks an end of the usual EU diplomatic approach reserved for the Taiwan issue and came a few days after China’s President Xi Jinping told the European Council President Charles Michel that China will resolutely safeguard its own sovereignty.

The Executive Vice President of the European Commission Margrethe Vestager said that China has ramped up pressure on the island nation and its military presence in the Strait. 

Having seen repeated air incursions crossing the median line into Taiwan’s air defence identification zone, Vestager says that these displays of force could directly impact European prosperity and security.

Borrell’s speech

The EU’s chief diplomat was keen to stress that Brussels still follows the One-China policy, meaning it won’t throw support behind Taiwanese statehood. However, the speech calls Taiwan a like-minded partner while China is cast as a ‘systemic rival.’

The EU said it would continue to support the current Taiwanese system of democratic governance based on democracy, the rule of law and human rights, its open society, and economy.

He criticized Beijing’s diplomatic and economic pressure on Lithuania too, whose decision to accept a new Taiwanese Representative Office upset China which recalled its ambassadors. It is a tense situation few want to escalate, for now.