EU delegation visits Taiwan

The visit by the EU Parliament delegation to Taiwan on November 3 has been a landmark event in terms of making a dent in China’s ever-ambitious plans to project the ‘One China policy’ and deter Taiwan from engaging in foreign relations activities.

The 7-member European Union (EU) delegation, which is the first of its kind from EU to Taiwan has a special significance as the delegation members form part of the EU’s Special Committee for Foreign Interference in all Democratic Processes.

The delegation interacted with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and Premier Su Tseng-chang besides other top leaders during the three-day visit.

As China indulges in aggressive posturing in its near abroad region, the sparks of such activities are beginning to have a reverse effect on China. There is an increasing sign among nations to come together to protest China’s aggressive approach.

In the past, attempts by China’s ambassadors and representatives of the Chinese media abroad to challenge local media rhetoric against China only led to a negative drift against them.

In most such instances where Chinese diplomats and officials objected to media projections in different countries against China portraying certain negative aspects based on facts, the local reaction has been extremely severe leading to strong anti-China sentiments in the media and government circles in these countries. In some cases Chinese diplomats crossed the line of diplomatic etiquette using brash and strong language against the local media.

The shift from a soft approach to a more aggressive posturing by representatives of the Chinese government abroad earned them the nom-de-plume ‘Wolf Warriors’.

The Chinese Ambassador to France Lu Shaye was sounded by the French Foreign Ministry for having defended China’s position on Covid-19 and criticising the West’s handling of the pandemic.

Earlier, during a posting to Canada Shaye had accused the Canadian media as well. The Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yangqi has on a number of occasions telephonically called up Media heads to convey a strong message against any article written by them that portrays China in a negative light.

The visit of the EU Parliament delegation coming close on the heels of China’s hectic activities focused on Taiwan including record number of flights into Taiwan’s ADIZ, an area of the Taiwanese Straits and continental Asia, has led to strong support for Taiwan all across.

Such aggressive posturing by China would undoubtedly witness more engagement between Europe and the US with Taiwan.

Another critical issue that has drawn the attention of European countries is the intrusive approach by China on undertaking sophisticated attacks through mobilisation of target countries’ society overriding democratic norms.

The ability of China to effectively indulge in such information campaign in different countries and also to influence the media and relevant players has drawn the special attention of European nations.

A member of the European Parliament Raphael Glucksmann stated (November 3) that one of the intentions of the visit of the European Union delegation was to “discuss with the Taiwanese side their experiences in the fight against disinformation, attempts at interference in Taiwanese democracy, media, culture and education besides Taiwan’s efforts to reinforce its cyber-resilience”.

With China indulging in aggressive posturing in different countries using the cyber route, there is realisation among most countries who have been victims of intrusive Chinese tactics to engage more with Taiwan which has the best experience in identifying and countering intrusive Chinese moves either on the electronic channels or in conventional form.

The Chinese, thus, need to realise that the more muscle flexing they undertake only tends to strengthen the position of Taiwan and draw in significant support from the global community in favour of Taiwan and against China.

Members of the European Union have, over a period of time, shared their experiences on dealing with intrusive Chinese tactics to penetrate their socio-political fabric besides the media networks.

This has led to extensive reports prepared by the EU on putting in place mechanisms to deal with such threats. It is in this context that Taiwan has emerged as a major player in advising and assisting nations across the world on how to deal with intrusive Chinese approach.

Earlier, Taiwan also received a group of legislators from the French Senate soon after China sent a record number of flights into Taiwan’s ADIZ.

According to the Executive Director of the EU Centre in Taiwan, Taiwan has also expressed its agreement to be a meaningful partner and extend assistance and support to EU in this regard, especially with the aim of promoting value-oriented policy in the Indo-Pacific area.

A form of cooperative approach is thus emerging across the board to challenge the Chinese on various fronts.

The assessment carried by several experts on the likelihood of China attacking Taiwan in 2025 is also part of efforts to create the necessary optics in the form of building a strong push back vis-a-vis China.

China would thus have to recalibrate its strategy towards Taiwan as otherwise it would lead to a strong anti rhetoric being built against China in the coming days.