The Rise of China?
The "tyranny of distance" plays a decisive role in policy recommendations for Germany and Europe. Military intervention is extremely unlikely due to the possibilities and the distance. Nevertheless, there are some strategies and measures that can be applied by Germany and other European countries to enhance regional security and avoid misperceptions by the Chinese leadership that could lead to risky behaviour.
Emphasising the importance of the regional status quo through appropriate measures
In recent years, several Western countries, including the Federal Republic of Germany, have begun to increase their military presence in the Indo-Pacific region. Although small maritime/airborne units would not play a major role in a military conflict, the continued military presence of European countries, especially on the part of Germany and France, could demonstrate the importance of maintaining the status quo.
Germany, together with other European countries, could show military presence and thus send a stronger message and illustrate the sustainability of its commitment. With Taiwan's security and integrity currently in the global spotlight, Germany and Taiwan should continue to interact to some extent. This could be brought on by discussions on security issues, or even exchanges on joint projects. For example, some exchanges could take place in less sensitive areas, such as humanitarian aid and disaster relief. This type of exchange could be bilateral or multilateral. In multilateral exchanges, the messages conveyed could be even stronger.
Discussion of possible crisis scenarios in the Taiwan State /Region
As the risk of regional conflicts is likely to increase in the future, Germany should further discuss the possible scenarios of regional security, especially with regard to conflicts between the two littoral states of the Taiwan Strait, including a complete invasion, a Chinese blockade of Taiwan or occupation of the islands off Taiwan.
Over the past decade, the German economy has been heavily dependent on China. Due to the tense situation, the German economy is at high risk. The German government, think tanks and European neighbours should think deeply about and discuss these scenarios. The first step for such discussions could be a merger of German and other European think tanks.
Avoiding further technology transfers from Germany to China
The rapid expansion and modernisation of the Chinese military was made possible to a large extent by stolen Western dual-use technologies, and this despite the EU's decades-long arms embargo. The powerful German MTU engines continue to be the most important components for the surface unit of the People's Liberation Army Navy. It is therefore extremely important to strengthen export controls on sensitive dual-use technologies. Germany and the EU should tighten export restrictions with regard to end-use documents and conduct rigorous background checks.
The Rise of China?
What is at stake for the West if a democratic Taiwan ceased to exist? This paper argues that Western democracies, especially Europe and Germany, need to address this question urgently to properly position themselves in the global political arena. Calling China out on false narratives and maintaining a “free and open Taiwan Strait” are only two of further policy options to counter the growing and dangerous Chinese influence in the Indo-Pacific region and well beyond. Defending Taiwan is a litmus test for whether the “rules-based international order” can sustain and is therefore part of Western democracies’ national interests.