More EU navies in the Taiwan Strait. On Sunday, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, urged the bloc’s member states’ naval forces to patrol the waters between mainland China and the island of Taiwan.
- The EU must be “very present in this dossier that affects us economically, commercially and technologically,” he wrote in the Journal du Dimanche. “Therefore, I urge European navies to patrol the Taiwan Strait to show Europe’s attachment to freedom of navigation in this absolutely crucial area.”
It’s strategic. Mr Borrell had already stressed how crucial the Taiwanese issue is on Tuesday, during the opening of a China-centred debate in the European Parliament, noting that Taiwan “is clearly part of our geostrategic perimeter to ensure peace.”
- He explained that rejecting unilateral action against Taiwan, and thus bolstering the case against it, must “necessarily” be rejected – and not just for moral reasons.
- “It is also because it would be, in economic terms, extremely serious for us, because Taiwan has a strategic role in the production of the most advanced semiconductors.”
- Beijing’s regional assertiveness in its surrounding waters is best contrasted by what the late Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the “free and open Indo-Pacific,” a strategic doctrine centred on free navigation, open countries and rule-based international contacts.
- Japan, India and the United States are all proponents of this doctrine, as is the EU, which – as Mr Borrell’s words demonstrate – is looking to bolster its engagement.
In comes Italy. The Italian government is also fully attuned to this doctrine. It has been strengthening its outreach and “intensifying” its Indo-Pacific presence, as Giorgio Silli, Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs, recently explained.
- Rome deployed both the Morosini offshore patrol vessel and the Bergamini frigate in Indo-Pacific waters, both of which are engaging in joint exercises with allies and upholding freedom of navigation.
- It’s also looking to send over its flagship aircraft carrier, the Cavour, between late 2023 and early 2024.
- Meanwhile, the Meloni government has upgraded Italy’s ties with Japan and India to “strategic” and is deepening security cooperation with both powers and more regional actors.