- Alodia Heijmans
[Reuters] Does NATO know what they want ?
On the 18th of May 2023, 15h45, the first session of the Maastricht EuroMUN 2023 starts off. Among the first sessions, the discussion upon the tensions between China and Taiwan goes on as delegates from multiple countries part of the North Atlantic Transatlantic Organization (NATO) debate upon the tensions between China and Taiwan. The aim of this discussion is to find a consensus on the strategy to adopt towards China as a common organisation, being NATO.
Today, as China-Taiwan relations are at stake, the urge of solving the conflict is present and more important than ever, especially looking at the current situation between Russia and Ukraine. Member states of NATO are meeting today to discuss the different strategies which can be adopted in order to soften tensions, solve the conflict, as well as protect NATO’s interests and security.
The present representatives agree on China, more commonly referred to as the PRC as a state threatening democracy, human rights and rule of law, not only to Taiwan but globally. Germany proposes a motion on the topic of dialogue between NATO and China, most of the countries are in favour of this dialogue. To start off the dialogue the representative of France states “We believe in the power of NATO”; a view which is shared by all the members - although most of them criticise the structure of the conflict-resolution that NATO is engaged in so far. Even though the representative of the United States is optimistic towards “a peaceful resolution of the conflict”, most of the members remind the committee that NATO is an offensive organisation which is well known by China as being a threat for themselves. In the meantime, the delegate wishing to remain anonymous has informed the press about their dissatisfaction of the current debate, stating that 'NATO is trying to go to war with China over Taiwan, which is ridiculous we should be a defensive alliance'. Indeed, the debate is tense and some of the members seem to have an offensive approach, which is not shared by all the members.
On its side, the United Kingdom emphasises deterrence as a key to solve the tensions. This view is shared by Turkey which greatly emphasises prevention as well, as they believe that attacking is not the way to go. This view is equally shared by Poland which emphasises NATO’s values as following Human Rights and Rule of Law that China does not respect. As Poland states, “We need to stand together, and we, as NATO, are willing to defend our values, and to do so we need to keep trusting each other”. Lithuania is less in line with this statement as it believes that NATO should supply arms to Taiwan although it understands and sustains the United States’ and Turkey’s view. Contrary to some of its fellow members Germany does not want to seem aggressive to China to prevent an invasion. Poland follows in reminding everyone that China remains a partner of NATO, in an economic sense, and that the organisation must be careful. The more the discussion goes on, the more members disagree with each other as Lithuania emphasises the need for diplomatic talk with China, an opinion which is not shared by every member. In the end, members agree with a possible summit with China, as proposed by Germany in the beginning. Turkey closes its statement by reminding the importance of the economy and states, “We cannot attack China”.In the end, the debate is very much fractured between the economic reasons and the values-based motivation to protect Taiwan, but also NATO from China’s offence. The possible strategy to adopt is mostly led by Germany which advocates for transparency and pushes its fellow members to hold a summit with China in order to find common ground. However, members such as Lithuania and the United States, are in favour of arming Taiwan and have a more offensive strategy which is not sustained by Hungary which looks for a more peaceful strategy. Overall, representatives emphasise the need for a better strategy that NATO should adopt which, for most of them, includes a dialogue with China. In the end the motion on military deterrence passes, although almost half of the members are against. The fracture between the common strategy NATO wishes to adopt and its hope for a consensus shows by the disagreements in the talks and in the vote.
- Alodia Heijmans, Correspondent for Reuters