June 22, 2023
TOKYO – Taiwan, which produces 90% of the world’s advanced semiconductors, has been leveraging its technological prowess to strengthen relations with the European Union, as Taipei aims to enhance deterrence against China in the event of a Taiwan contingency.
In a recent weeklong visit to the Czech Republic, Poland and other EU member states, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu apparently sought strong ties in semiconductors among other sectors.
Wu visited the European Parliament in Brussels on June 16, met a dozen officials including parliamentarians, and asked that attention be paid to the situation in the Taiwan Strait.
During the same period, Taiwan’s Digital Minister Audrey Tang visited the United Kingdom and Taiwan’s Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua went to France.
For the EU, strengthening relations with Taipei had been seen as unfavorable as it wanted to avoid any backlash from Beijing. However, the bloc has begun stepping up its involvement with Taiwan in response to a growing sense of crisis over China’s hegemonic moves and Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine.
In its strategy on China to be adopted at the end of June, the EU is expected to stipulate for the first time its involvement in the peace and stability of the Taiwan Strait.
Wu, in an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun on June 15, emphasized the change in the EU’s relations with Taiwan.
“In Taiwan, we can sense that the EU’s support for Taiwan has been increasing, especially with top EU officials commenting on Taiwan,” Wu said, giving an example of one official who “has been commenting in a very strong way on opposing China’s unilateral change of status quo, or in a very strong way on supporting Taiwan.”
In March, or the first time in 26 years, Germany sent a cabinet minister to Taiwan and inked a science and technology agreement.
Under the circumstances with Taiwan’s massive share in semiconductors, “if there is going to be a war between Taiwan and China … the rest of the world including Europe is going to be seriously impacted,” Wu said.
“The defense of Taiwan is our own responsibility,” he said. “We are not asking for other countries to come to Taiwan’s assistance.”
“Many people have already discussed the war in Ukraine as a failure of deterrence. We should not let war happen.”
As Japan and the U.S.-led North Atlantic Treaty Organization are working toward opening a liaison office in Tokyo, Wu said, “that will symbolize NATO’s attention to the Indo-Pacific, and especially to the peace and stability within the first island chain,” which includes Taiwan and stretches from Kyushu to the Philippines.
European nations are willing to promote economic cooperation with China in areas that do not hinder economic security. China, amid increasing friction with the United States, has been positive about its relations with Europe in that respect.
“I think European countries can make their voice heard,” Wu said, “by expressing clearly that they oppose any use of force against anyone at all.”