The Russian invasion of Ukraine shifted geopolitical dynamics both in Europe and beyond. With the war and the looming presence of the Chinese authoritarian regime in the region, many Asian countries found themselves facing new or renewed challenges. What are these challenges? How can the diversity of opinion affect mutual relations in the region? What are the financial and economic implications of the war in Ukraine for Asian countries? What is the right response of democratic countries towards these kinds of acts of authoritarian regimes? And how can European and Asian countries work together to overcome the challenges ahead?
Deputy Minister of the Republic of China (Taiwan), Dr. Harry Ho-jen Tseng, tackled these questions in GLOBSEC's discussion “The Russian invasion of Ukraine: Challenges of a new geopolitical era for Taiwan”.
Given the ideological affinities between Moscow and Beijing and the similar circumstances for Taiwan and Ukraine, the outbreak of the conflict in Ukraine undoubtedly raised the attention to the possibility that a similar future may be in store for Taiwan. The government of Taipei was among the first to show solidarity to Ukrainians by sending medical aid to Kyiv and collecting funds aimed to support Ukraine’s neighboring countries in assisting refugees. Deputy Minister Dr. Tseng highlighted, during the discussion, how the responsiveness of Taiwanese people should be seen “as more than solidarity - as a will of these people to cooperate with like-minded people”.
One important part of the discussion was security in Taiwan: a potential military escalation is not perceived as a possible scenario in the foreseeable future. China remains interested in unification with Taiwan, but analyzing this complicated crisis from a solely military point of view is not beneficial. China has tried in the past to use force against Taiwan but with scarce results, besides “Taiwan is not defenseless and Taiwan is not alone”. The war in Ukraine has shown how quickly the West can cooperate and respond to international crises and this is not what China wants to cope with.
Besides this, “China has a very attractive market and it can easily threaten the synergies between the EU and the US, especially nowadays when the separation between politics and business is rather blurred. And economics is getting blurred too. It is important for people in the EU, and in the CEE, to understand these mechanisms and not underestimate the threat posed by these apparently harmless economic agreements. Political leaders have to see things differently from the public: that is what political leadership is.”
At the end of the war in Ukraine, there will be an exhausted Europe and a very weakened Russia, this leaves only two actors in the international scene able to stand alone: India and China.