Taiwan: how dangerous are China's manoeuvres?

China has perceived Nancy Pelosi's visit to Taiwan as a provocation and reacted with aggressive military exercises around the island. The Chinese navy has not only encroached on Taiwan's twelve-mile zone, but it has also fired missiles at waters claimed by Japan. Europe's press is divided on the dangers these developments pose.

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Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Beijing will not risk destabilisation

China won't do more than flexing its muscles, Corriere della Sera believes:

“Out of common sense, humanity and economic interests, Xi Jinping will no doubt rule out a military attack. China is Taiwan's largest trading partner - the estimated value of trade was 328 billion US dollars in 2021 - and a war would only leave debris in its wake. Moreover, the People's Republic would risk, if not direct US intervention, at least similar treatment to Vladimir Putin's Russia: isolation and sanctions. At this point, the entire globalised world would enter a huge grey zone of destabilisation.”

Kommersant (RU) /

The start of a spiral of conflict

The world must brace itself for serious economic shocks, Kommersant believes:

“We must expect the manoeuvres around Taiwan to become more frequent, more substantial and more serious. ... After Pelosi's visit, this is the easiest way for Beijing to show Washington its anger. The US will naturally respond with even more aid to the island, which will only further escalate the conflict. The intensification of the diplomatic conflict, in turn, will lead to a series of mutual economic restrictions.”

El País (ES) /

The Taiwanese must position themselves

Xulio Ríos, an expert on China and Taiwan, is curious to see how the visit will affect Taiwan's local elections in November. He writes in El País:

“After Pelosi's visit, Taiwan will face a kind of enforced crisis. ... It remains to be seen how the predictable escalation of the situation will be reflected politically - in terms of results in the November local elections and of how the government in Taipei can use China's angry reaction to its advantage by combining domestic polarisation with increased international solidarity.”

Phileleftheros (CY) /

Pelosi's pledge is no guarantee

No one knows what will happen if China decides to use military means, writes Phileleftheros:

“In the event of a conflict, will the US provide only economic and military aid, as it did in Ukraine, or will it send American troops to fight the Chinese? Taiwan is clearly more economically and strategically significant to the US than Ukraine. However, this is no guarantee that Taipei will not receive the same treatment as Kyiv. Pelosi has pledged support for Taiwan, but she is not the one calling the shots. If her courageous stance is not emulated, Taiwan may risk becoming another David pitted against a Goliath.”

Delfi (LT) /

Like a real cowboy

For Delfi Pelosi's visit to Taiwan is a positive move:

“It's like one of those Hollywood westerns, where the ending gives you hope that everything will be all right. ... Such a plot unfolded this week, only not on the big screen but in the real world. In the leading role of this political duel: the 82-year-old lady from Washington - a veteran of politics, Nancy Pelosi. Unlike many politicians across the Atlantic, she still remembers the Cold War. By landing in Taipei, the speaker of the US House of Representatives reminded the whole world that real cowboys know what to do with bandits. No matter which direction they're riding in from.”

La Repubblica (IT) /

Xi Jinping is afraid of contagion

La Repubblica explains why Taiwan is a sore point for Beijing:

“As in the case of Ukraine, where Vladimir Putin's real fear was neither the military threat from Kyiv nor the expansion of Nato but rather the danger of 'democratic contagion', Taiwan represents the great evil for Xi Jinping: the possibility of a free, democratic China governed by the rule of law. China's current show of force, including the military parade and naval blockade, is only an intensified version of the aggressive Chinese policy towards the democratic island of Taiwan, which Xi Jinping wants to reunite with the motherland by hook or by crook during his potential third term.”

Público (PT) /

A gift for the coronation

The Chinese government has the firm intention of annexing Taiwan, writes Público:

“It is common knowledge that Xi is seeking the 'national rejuvenation' of the country as a modern and united superpower, and that to achieve this unification with Taiwan, which is to take place by 2049, is not being ruled out. It is also known that he hopes to be confirmed for a third term as chairman of the Chinese Communist Party at the 20th Party Congress this autumn. China is patient and will not let anything deter it from taking the island. What China has done with Hong Kong and Macau, it now wants to do with Taiwan, and as soon as possible, to mark Xi Jinping's coronation.”

LB.ua (UA) /

China not yet ready for the big duel

Pelosi's trip has at least clarified how things stand with the balance of power right now, writes political analyst Petro Shevchenko in lb.ua:

“The US has demonstrated that it is not afraid of a military clash with China. Pelosi's trip enabled it to achieve a number of geostrategic, economic and political goals. ... Beijing took Pelosi's trip very seriously, but it adopted a pragmatic stance and refrained from starting an armed conflict that would have led to the collapse of the Chinese economy as well as the global one. ... Events have shown that China is not yet ready for the decisive marathon: an economic and military confrontation with the US.”

24 Chasa (BG) /

Beijing is the biggest capitalist

The Chinese government knows very well that war and global trade are incompatible, 24 Chasa points out:

“Communist China exists and lives from global trade, which leads to pathological rationalism. And trade and military action are incompatible - this has also been evident in Ukraine. The Chinese Communist Party is the world's biggest capitalist. ... What's more, the other countries in the region have some of the best-equipped armies in the world. ... Who would emerge victorious if it came to a clash is by no means a foregone conclusion.”

Kristeligt Dagblad (DK) /

Democracies more resilient in times of peace

The conflict with China is reminiscent of the Cold War with the Soviet Union, writes Kristeligt Dagblad, urging the West to seek a peaceful solution:

“The West will win the confrontation against the autocrats in the long run, provided it can be fought with conviction and peaceful means - just as the collapse of the Soviet Union was relatively peaceful because the Soviet citizens and the few wise people among the communist party leaders ultimately did not want to or could not continue as before. If, on the other hand, it comes to a military conflict, it is not certain that the free countries will win. That is the great dilemma of our time.”

Wiener Zeitung (AT) /

Europe increasingly aligning with the US

Pelosi's visit is a setback for the EU's efforts to increase its international clout, the Wiener Zeitung says:

“As the competition between systems is now focused on the future of democratic Taiwan, the EU has little alternative but to rally behind the US, which is taking the lead. There are many indications that the US and Europe will have to act together if they hope to have a chance of upholding their notions of successful coexistence and defending them against attacks, whether by Russia or China. ... The idea of strategic sovereignty therefore remains Europe's goal, if only so it can have a say in the course the West takes.”

The Times (GB) /

Preserving credibility

Pelosi is right to ignore China's sabre-rattling, The Times insists:

“The US is trying to put itself at the centre of an alliance that contains China. It will lose credibility with allies such as Japan if it backs down every time Xi tells Biden that he's playing with fire by supporting Taiwan. ... If Biden caved to bullying from Xi, he would lose standing within Nato too. ... Pelosi, emboldened perhaps by the likelihood of retirement after the midterm elections, does not cower at the prospect of a US-China war. Common sense tells her that it isn't going to happen, at least not for a decade, and for sure not this August.”

Expressen (SE) /

Sacrifices also needed for Taiwan

Expressen draws a parallel with the war in Ukraine and urges the West to stick to its guns:

“The fact that Ukraine has fought so heroically and cost Russia so much - with the help of weapons and support from the West - is a bitter lesson. The same applies to US and EU sanctions against Russia. It should be clear to China that the West is indeed willing to make sacrifices to punish belligerent imperialists. But it is important that we persevere. Russia and China think in long cycles and hope to capitalise on the (democratic) indecisiveness of the US and the EU. We must show China and Taiwan that we can stand firm.”

Fakti.bg (BG) /

Avoid a hole in the protective membrane

Fakti.bg looks at why the island is so important for the US and Japan:

“Taiwan is part of the first island chain fanning out from Japan and its archipelago, which stretches across Taiwan to Malaysia. It serves as a barrier blocking Chinese expansion in the Pacific. ... Tokyo is also very interested in preserving Taiwan's independence because, according to Japanese strategists, it will be even more difficult for Japan to protect its islands if Taipei is taken over by China. Both the Americans and the Japanese fear that if Taiwan falls, an irreparable hole will be torn in this China-blocking island membrane.”

Irish Independent (IE) /

Playing with fire

Annoyed by Pelosi's risky behaviour, The Irish Independent repeats UN Secretary General António Guterres' warning that humanity is only "one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation":

“Her visit could not be more controversial as she is second in the line of succession to the US presidency and a consistent critic of China. It will do nothing to help worsening relations between Washington and Beijing. The rationale may be that if successful, it may ultimately avoid a crisis in the Taiwan Strait. Should it backfire it could precipitate one. ... Given the amount of naval and aerial military manoeuvres in the South China Sea, there is no room for a slip-up. Nearly 13,000 nuclear weapons are held in arsenals worldwide.”

Večernji list (HR) /

Germany can't afford another war

Večernji list comments on how dependent the German economy is on China and Taiwan:

“The German economy could not survive without the Chinese market and its raw materials, especially in these times of inflation and an energy crisis. Nor could Europe get by without Taiwan, particularly not in the IT sector. If it comes to a conflict over Taiwan, the German economy will face another crisis because of the lack of semiconductors and chips - not to mention the importance of the huge Chinese market for German exports. German politicians are quite clear about what should be done in the case of Taiwan.”