Jan 5, 2023 - World

Former NATO chief: Europe must help deter China from attacking Taiwan

Former NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaks during a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) in Taipei on January 5, 2023.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaks during a press conference at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taipei on January 5, 2023. Photo: Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images.

TAIPEI — The most important way to deter China from attacking Taiwan is to ensure a Ukrainian victory in the war against Russia, former NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Thursday.

Why it matters: It's the first time a former NATO chief has made an official visit to Taiwan, highlighting the growing concern in Europe over China's aggression in the Asia-Pacific.

What he's saying: "The parallels with Russia and Ukraine are hard to ignore. We must not make the same mistakes with Xi Jinping that we did with Vladimir Putin," said Rasmussen, who served as NATO chief from 2009 to 2014 and was formerly prime minister of Denmark, during a visit to Taipei.

  • "The free world has shown impressive unity in response to the war in Ukraine," Rasmussen said. "We can be sure Xi Jinping is watching closely. Any attempt by China to change the status quo in Taiwan by force should spark an equally unified response, and we must make this clear to China now."

Details: Rasmussen called on European leaders to publicly commit to cutting off China's access to the global economy if it makes a move on Taiwan.

  • "Spelling out the severe economic consequences of any attack now would be a powerful deterrent," he said.
  • Europe has had to learn the hard way that economic dependence on cheap Russian energy and cheap Chinese products is no longer a viable economic model, he added.
  • Rasmussen is visiting Taiwan in his capacity as the chairman and founder of the Denmark-based Alliance of Democracies Foundation, which aims to promote democratic unity in the face of authoritarian expansion.

Of note: The former NATO chief praised President Biden's repeated statements that the U.S. would help Taiwan in the case of an attack from China.

  • "Strategic ambiguity has been replaced by strategic clarity," Rasmussen said.

Yes, but: Rasmussen said that NATO does not have a direct role to play in the Indo-Pacific, adding that groupings such as the Quad are better suited to support peace and stability in the region.

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