Was the European Union’s intelligence chief forced to cancel his trip to Taiwan following pressure from China? A report says the intelligence chief’s top-secret preparations for the trip got leaked to Beijing, raising questions about human or data leaks from the EU.
A report in Politico, citing two diplomats said José Casimiro Morgado, director of the European Union Intelligence and Situation Centre, was supposed to make the “below-the-radar visit” to Taiwan to meet officials. However, China got wind of the top-secret preparations and forced the EU to cancel the trip.
According to the report, this development has raised questions about human or data leaks from the EU with the diplomats expressing concern about the EU’s decision to cancel the visit after succumbing to Chinese pressure. This comes at a time when encouraged by Western action against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine, Taipei is lobbying hard for sanctions against Beijing.
Exchanges between the EU and Taiwan have been on the rise in recent months, angering China. Taiwan Foreign Minister Joseph Wu visited Brussels last October as part of his European trip. During his trip, Foreign Minister Wu met with members of the EU Parliament to express gratitude for deepening Taiwan-EU ties and urged “freedom-loving countries” to work together against China.
Reacting to the news, an EU official denied that Morgado planned to make a trip to Taiwan, and said that he was only supposed to hold meetings with Taiwanese officials over the phone. However, he canceled the call because of the Chinese reaction to last month’s visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei, the Politico report said.
The EU spokesman refused to say whether there’s an investigation into possible external leaks about Morgado’s travel plans, Politico added.
The European Union has so far shied away from imposing tough sanctions on Beijing over its human rights violations, given that China plays a big role in the bloc’s economy. Any decision on European sanctions will require all member countries to agree.
Meanwhile the U.S. Senate committee Wednesday approved legislation to significantly enhance U.S. military support for the defense of the self-governing democratic island against Chinese aggression. Taiwan’s de facto ambassador in Washington, Hsiao Bi-khim, has also hosted dozens of international lawmakers to back the demand for sanctions on China for aggression toward the island.
With reports that the U.S is considering options for a sanctions package against China to deter it from invading Taiwan, Taipei is also building diplomatic pressure on the EU for similar action against Beijing. Taiwan is lobbying with European envoys, asking them to plan what actions they may take if China attacked Taiwan.
Although delegations from the U.S., Europe and several countries have been visiting Taiwan regularly for several years, it is only recently that Beijing, which considers the island one of its provinces, started adopting an aggressive stance threatening to retaliate with military strikes and sanctions.
Tensions in the Taiwan Strait reached their highest level in years last month after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taipei. Beijing condemned the visit and reacted furiously, staging days of air and sea exercises around Taiwan.