What does the conflict over Taiwan portend?
Chinese head of state Xi Jinping on Sunday called on Taiwan to join the People's Republic, a call Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen firmly rejected. Last week China sent fighter jets into the Taiwanese air defence zone several times. Now the Pentagon has admitted that US instructors are secretly training Taiwan's army. Commentators take very different views of the escalation.
The biggest threat of the century
Taiwan is where the battle between the US and China will be decided, says editor-in-chief Maurizio Molinari in La Repubblica:
“Here we see a global challenge emerging that also involves human rights - think of the criticism of the persecution of dissidents in Hong Kong, the Uighurs in Xinjiang and other minorities. Xi Jinping is responding by accusing the US of neo-colonialism and sending hundreds of military aircraft to Taiwan to demand the right to 'reunify' with the island. ... While Joe Biden wants to build a new security architecture in Asia so that the US can continue to play a leading role in the world, Xi aims to complete Mao's plan. ... It is the friction between these two incompatible projects that is playing out in Taiwan and poses the greatest threat of our century.”
Western sabre-rattling the wrong reaction
Europe should not overdramatise the implications of the growing tensions, the Frankfurter Rundschau puts in:
“Yes, China is testing the limits in its dealings with Taiwan, especially with its notorious violation of the democratic island's airspace. And yet one need not read any plans of attack into Beijing's actions. We must continue to contradict China, admonish it and not sit back and tolerate its provocations. And that is exactly what we are already doing. Europe is strengthening its presence in the Pacific, for example with the joint Eurofighter exercises with Japan and Australia. But sabre-rattling would be the wrong reaction.”
China learning from Russia
Beijing's aggression is mainly shifting the focus from awkward issues, says Népszava:
“Xi Jinping's presidency has brought a shift towards aggressiveness in the Communist Party's diplomacy. In this respect Beijing has learned a lot from Russia: China is applying the Kremlin's methods to fulfill its global political ambitions. ... But this self-confidence is merely a fig leaf. The regime is insecure and concerned about its legitimacy. The aggression is nothing more than an attempt to divert attention from internal problems.”