A German academic on Monday told a Taiwan forum in Berlin that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine should serve as a wake-up call for Taipei, as Taiwanese are not taking China’s military threats seriously.
Gudrun Wacker, a senior fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs’ Asia research division, made the remarks during a panel discussion at the first Berlin Taiwan Conference, titled “Taiwan: Opportunities and Challenges in Times of Geopolitical Change.”
The two-day conference began on Monday at the European House in Berlin, and was attended by nearly 100 people.
Wacker said that Taiwanese have become accustomed to Chinese threats of military force and do not take them seriously, making it difficult to maintain vigilance and prepare for war.
As such, using the phrase “today’s Ukraine, tomorrow’s Taiwan” to draw a parallel between Ukraine and Taiwan makes sense, she said.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shows how irrational world leaders can be in making political decisions, while completely ignoring the economy, Wacker said.
Therefore, the Russia-Ukraine war should serve as an alarm for Taiwan, awakening people there to face the last thing they want to face, she said.
Wacker was responding to Emily Wu (吳怡慈), cofounder of Taiwan-based podcast network Ghost Island Media, who discussed the Taiwanese experience in countering China’s influence.
Wu said that although China conducted military exercises around Taiwan after US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited the nation in August, Taiwanese generally remained calm and went about their lives as usual.
Wacker said that in the past few years, Germany has highlighted Taiwan as a “value partner” in official documents.
When it comes to issues such as LGBTQ+ rights, it is difficult for Germany to find a partner in Asia with a similar stance to Taiwan’s, she said.
China imposed trade sanctions on Lithuania after it allowed Taiwan to establish a representative office in Vilnius last year with “Taiwanese” in the title, fostering a sense of unity in Europe as a result, Wacker said.
EU members should be careful not to be divided while engaging with China, she said.
Event organizer Reinhard Butikofer, a German member of the European Parliament and chairman of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with the People’s Republic of China, said in a speech that the current German administration, which came to power at the end of last year, mentioned Taiwan for the first time in its coalition agreement, signifying a positive shift in attitude toward the nation.
In addition to supporting Taiwan’s participation in the international community, the agreement also emphasizes that the “status quo” in the Taiwan Strait can only be changed under the conditions of peace and mutual consent, Butikofer said.
Most members of the European Parliament support Taiwan, and the establishment of a bilateral investment agreement between the EU and Taiwan, he said.
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