TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Former Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Tuesday (Jan. 11) called on the U.S. and Europe to increase support for Taiwan in a Newsweek op-ed.
In the article titled “China Is Using Economic Coercion as Blackmail. The US and EU Must Fight Back,” Rasmussen said the West has “turned a blind eye” to China’s increased hybrid warfare tactics on Taiwan, including disinformation campaigns, political isolation, and nearly daily intrusions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone. He said many western nations fail to take a strong stance against such coercion out of fear of what Beijing could do to them politically and economically.
Thus, they do not actively resist China’s attempts to promote its “one China” principle.
The former prime minister said that more strategic clarity among democracies is needed, suggesting that the U.S. could “become less covert in its support for Taipei.”
The balance of power in the wider Indo-Pacific would be a “devastating” blow to freedom and democracy around the world if Taiwan were to be seized by China, he said. As a result, Europe cannot be idle and let America “do all the heavy lifting in the Indo-Pacific,” while simultaneously maintaining economic relations with Beijing.
However, Rasmussen noted that the European Parliament recently passed a resolution calling for deeper EU-Taiwan ties as well as an investment agreement. He also said the new German government “has steered more towards a values-based foreign policy,” while Lithuania has withdrawn from the China-led 17+1 initiative and bolstered relations with Taiwan.
Rasmussen said that in response to Lithuania's actions, Beijing has unleashed a wave of economic coercion against the Baltic nation, blocking its exports and restricting thousands of containers of goods that Lithuanian businesses already paid for from leaving Chinese ports.
He pointed out that this bullying of a NATO ally and EU member state “is a test for the free world.” If Lithuania is left alone to counter China, this economic coercion will soon be directed at others to force democracies to acquiesce to Beijing's will.
Though the EU is working on an anti-coercion mechanism that would effectively fight back against this kind of behavior, Rasmussen said the real challenge is whether Europe “has enough political will to defend Lithuania's right to make its own choices.”
He suggested the creation of a NATO-style "Economic Article 5" as a long-term solution to “blunt China's abuse of strategic investment and economic coercion to geopolitical ends.”
Ultimately, Rasmussen said Europe and the U.S. share a common interest in the Indo-Pacific and should work together to ensure it is free, open, and democratic by pursuing a new approach to relations with China.
He said the West’s relationship with Taiwan begs the question: Are we “willing to stand up for the lynchpin of freedom and democracy in a region where both are under increasing pressure from autocracy and dictatorship?”