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European Policy Chief Advocates for Warship Patrols of Taiwan Strait

In a recent op-ed for Le Journal du Dimanche, EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell boldly advocated for European warships to actively patrol the Taiwan Strait as a means of countering Beijing’s growing military assertiveness. This stance, which diverges from French President Emmanuel Macron’s relatively reserved approach to the Taiwan issue, underscores Borrell’s belief that Europe must play a more prominent naval role in this critical matter, given its economic, commercial, and technological ties to the region.

Borrell contends that the presence of European navies in the Taiwan Strait will serve as a powerful symbol of Europe’s unwavering commitment to upholding freedom of navigation in this strategically vital area. Additionally, he urges vigilance against potential provocations and escalations in the region. He further emphasizes that the majority of the Taiwanese population is in favor of maintaining the current peaceful status quo, and as such, Europe should stand firm in its support of this principle.

“Europe must be very present on this issue of Taiwan, which concerns us economically, commercially and technologically,” said Borrell. “That is why I call on European navies to patrol the Taiwan Strait to signify Europe’s commitment to freedom of navigation in this absolutely crucial area. At the same time, we must be vigilant against provocations and overbidding.”

As Borrell prepares to lead a meeting of the EU’s 27 foreign ministers, discussions regarding EU-China relations will undoubtedly be at the forefront. It is worth noting that France, the Netherlands, and Germany are among the few EU nations with the warship capacity to undertake patrol missions as far-reaching as the western Pacific. The United Kingdom, though not an EU member, also has such capabilities, as demonstrated by the deployment of the HMS Queen Elizabeth to the South China Sea in 2021.

Contrasting with the frequent presence of American military vessels in the Taiwan Strait, European warships seldom traverse the area. The recent passage of the French surveillance frigate Prairial through the Strait, as reported by the Taiwanese government, marks a rare exception. However, during the German frigate Bayern’s historic journey through the Indo-Pacific in 2021, its first in decades, the vessel did not venture into the Taiwan Strait.

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