Macron sparked Anger by saying Europe should not be a "Vassal" in a US-China Clash

EU | April 11, 2023, Tuesday // 12:46|  views

Emmanuel Macron has come under fire after he said Europe should not become a "vassal" and should avoid being drawn into a conflict between the US and China over Taiwan, the Guardian reported.

The French president made the remarks in an in-flight interview after a three-day state visit to China, where he was greeted on the red carpet by Chinese President Xi Jinping, a display that alarmed some European China watchers.

Speaking to reporters from Les Eco and Politico, Macron said Europe should be a third power in the world order, along with the US and China. While the comments confirmed his long-term goal of "strategic autonomy" for Europe, namely avoiding military and economic dependence, his remarks on Taiwan sparked anger and concern on both sides of the Atlantic.
Macron said: "The paradox would be that, panic-stricken, we believe that we are simply followers of America. The question that Europeans must answer is whether it is in our interest to accelerate (the crisis) in Taiwan. No. It would be worse to think that we Europeans should become followers of this topic and take a cue from the US agenda and China's overreaction."

He added that it would be a "trap for Europe", which has now developed more autonomy after the COVID-19 pandemic, to be drawn into crises "that are not ours". "If the tension between the two superpowers heats up ... we will not have the time and resources to finance our strategic autonomy and we will become vassals, whereas we could become the third pole (in the world order) if we have a few years to develop that."

Macron added that the need for Europe's "strategic autonomy" was now widely accepted and there had never been "such an acceleration of European power" as in recent years.

He also highlighted the risks to Europe from the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the $369 billion environmental subsidy plan, and over-reliance on the dollar. However, according to Macron, Europe has reacted with great speed, coming up with "our European IRA" - the plans to promote local green technologies and the production of critical raw materials.

The goal of the dialogue with China is to "consolidate common approaches" to the war in Ukraine, Macron also said.

According to Politico, the Elysée Palace vetted Macron's quotes before publication as a condition of giving the interview and insisted on removing lines in which Macron spoke "even more openly" about Taiwan and Europe's strategic autonomy.
In a social media post with a link to the Politico interview, US Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican, said that if Macron was speaking for all of Europe, then the US should consider focusing its foreign policy on containing China and let Europe deal with the war in Ukraine.

A Wall Street Journal editorial noted that the French president's "useless comments" will undermine US and Japanese deterrence against China in the Western Pacific, while emboldening US policymakers who want to reduce US commitments in Europe. "If President Biden is awake, he should call Mr. Macron and ask him if he is trying to re-elect Donald Trump," the paper said.

One MEP stressed that the French leader was not speaking on behalf of the EU. "Macron says 'Europe must' and 'we the Europeans', but he speaks for France, he can't really speak for Europe."

"Maybe it's a bit surprising to emphasize strategic autonomy now in April 2023 because the world has changed in the last 14 months," he added, suggesting that Russia's invasion of Ukraine had called into question Europe's ability to become a third power. in the global order, as Macron suggests.

Norbert Roettgen, a center-right German lawmaker who is a member and former chairman of the Bundestag's foreign affairs committee, said Macron had turned his trip to China into a PR coup for Xi Jinping and a foreign policy disaster for Europe. his idea of sovereignty, which he defines by distinction rather than partnership with the US, he is increasingly isolating himself in Europe.

Reinhard Butikofer, an MEP who chairs the European Parliament delegation to China, described Macron's visit to China as a "complete disaster".

According to the German MEP from the Greens, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has shown "a better alternative".

Von der Leyen recently said the EU should reassess its relationship with Chinese authorities, who have stepped up "policies of disinformation and economic and commercial coercion".
Pascal Confavreux, a spokesman for the French embassy in Washington, said Macron's words had been misinterpreted. "The US is our ally with whom we share our values," he wrote on Twitter.

The White House emphasized that it has confidence in its exceptional relationship with France, reported AFP, quoted by BTA.

"We have every confidence in our outstanding bilateral relationship with France and in the relationship that President Joe Biden has with French President Macron," said White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.

"The French are really in the process of becoming more involved in the Indo-Pacific region," he added.

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Tags: Macron, US, europe, China, Taiwan


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