Europe braces itself for fallout from Pelosi's visit to Taiwan

LONDON – European governments have maintained a polite silence in the dispute between China and Washington over United States Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan on Tuesday (Aug 2).

But behind the scenes, the Europeans are fearful about both the immediate and long-term implications of Mrs Pelosi’s trip.

Having initially assumed that a war in Europe was unthinkable, only to be confronted by the current bloodshed in Ukraine, European governments are now bracing themselves for any eventuality.

So, although the consensus among Europe-based strategic experts is that the chances of a direct military confrontation between the US and China remain small, there is also an acknowledgement that worst-case scenarios do sometimes come to pass, and that, therefore, nothing can be ruled out.

There is also a fear that rising tensions between Beijing and Washington may divert US attention away from confronting the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Although the number of US troops in Europe is relatively small – not more than 100,000 even after the latest plans to beef up America’s presence on the continent – it is clear that the eruption of a major security crisis in Asia could change priorities in the White House.

There is also the realisation that the flare-up of tensions in Asia will encourage Russian President Vladimir Putin to persist with his invasion of Ukraine in the hope that Russia will be able to break up Western unanimity and ultimately prevail in this conflict.

And there is also apprehension in European capitals that one of China’s possible responses to the Pelosi visit may be an acceleration in the level of its cooperation with Moscow.

Until now, Chinese leaders have expressed public sympathy with Russia and opposition to the US-led economic sanctions on Moscow, but have not taken active steps to help Russian troops, which are running low on ammunition.

But this could now change as Beijing seeks additional levers to punish the US. A more substantial Russian-Chinese military and economic cooperation will be received as very bad news in European capitals.

Yet, at the same time, there is also a growing belief in Europe that Taiwan deserves political support, if only in order to discourage a potential Chinese military takeover of the island.

And there is a tacit understanding that Europe will have to align itself with Washington should tensions rise further in the confrontation between China and the US.

Disclaimer: This report is automatically generated from worldwide news services. NTN is not responsible for its content and does not moderate it.

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