Emmanuel Macron has come under fire after saying Europe should not become a “vassal” and refrain from getting involved in any conflict between the US and China over Taiwan.

The French President later made the remark in an interview on his plane Three day state visit to Chinawhere he received a red carpet welcome by President Xi Jinping – a show of pageantry that alarmed some European China watchers.

talking to reporters from les echoes And political manMacron said that Europe should be the third power in the world order, along with the US and China. While the comments reaffirmed Macron’s long-standing goal of “strategic autonomy” for Europe, namely to avoid military and economic dependence, his remarks on Taiwan stoked anger and alarm on both sides of the Atlantic.

According to Les Echos, Macron said: “Can we [Europeans] interested in getting up to speed on Taiwan, No, the worst thing would be to think that we Europeans should be followers on the subject and adapt ourselves to an American rhythm and a Chinese excess.

He said it would be “a trap for Europe”, now that it has developed greater autonomy since the Covid pandemic, to get caught up in crises “that are not ours”. If the conflict between American and Chinese monopolies escalates, “we will have neither the time nor the means to finance our strategic autonomy and become vassals, while we may become the third pole.” [in the world order] If we have a few years to develop it”.

Macron said that Europe’s need for “strategic autonomy” was now widely accepted and that there had never been “such an acceleration of European power” in recent years.

He also stressed the risks of the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), the $369bn (£300bn) green subsidy scheme, and Europe’s over-reliance on the dollar. However, he added that Europe was reacted very quickly Referring to the plans, to come up with “our European IRA” Promote indigenous green technology and production of vital raw materials.

And he suggested that his talks with Xi had been useful in confronting “complacency on the part of China In relation to Russia ”. Macron said the goal of the talks with China was to “consolidate the common approach” on the war in Ukraine.

According to Politico, the Elysee presidential palace checked Macron’s quotes before publication as a condition of giving the interview and insisted on removing lines where Macron spoke “even more clearly” about the strategic autonomy of Taiwan and Europe. ” Had talked.

In a social media post linked to the Politico interview, US Republican Senator Marco Rubio said that if Macron spoke for all of Europe, the US should consider leaving Europe to focus its foreign policy on China and handling the war in Ukraine. should do.

Rubio, who lost the Republican presidential nomination to Donald Trump in 2016, said he supported US aid to Ukraine, but that a rethink was in order if Europe was going to take sides on Taiwan: Suffice to say, we’re going to focus on threats emanating from Taiwan and China, and you guys handle Ukraine and Europe.” Hitting back at Politico’s disclaimer, Rubio said Macron had said “worse things” before the Elysee edit.

In an editorial, The Wall Street Journal said the French president’s “unhelpful comments” would undermine American and Japanese deterrence against China in the Western Pacific, while encouraging American politicians who wanted to reduce American commitments in Europe. The newspaper wrote, “If President Biden is awake, he should call Mr. Macron and ask if he is trying to re-elect Donald Trump.”

Norbert Rötgen, a German centre-right lawmaker and former chairman of the Bundestag’s foreign affairs committee, said Macron had turned his visit to China into “a PR coup for Xi and a foreign policy disaster for Europe”. Had given. “With his idea of ​​sovereignty, which he defines in demarcation rather than partnership with the United States, he is increasingly isolating himself in Europe.”

Reinhard Butikofer, an MEP who chairs the European Parliament’s China delegation, described Macron’s visit to China as an “absolute disaster”. German Green MEP, who has been banned by Beijing because of his stance on human rights in China Xinjiang, also said that Macron’s “pipe dream” of the EU’s strategic autonomy and becoming a “third superpower” was “beyond the pale”. He said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had shown “a better alternative”.

von der Leyen recently said EU needed to re-evaluate its relationship with a Chinese government that promoted “disruptive and economic and trade coercive policies”.

While Macron was praised in Brussels for inviting von der Leyen to join him in Beijing, the reality of the visit only highlighted China’s efforts to divide and rule. While China rolled out the red carpet for Macron with a state banquet and military parade, von der Leyen was given a chilly reception and left out of the pageantry.

Macron’s supporters said the interview was nothing new either for him or for French foreign policy since Charles de Gaulle. Gérard Araud, France’s former ambassador to Washington and the United Nations, said Macron had started an important debate at a time when there was a growing need to consolidate in a ‘Western Bloc’ under US direction assuring he was on the side of “good”. The temptation was there. , adding: “It would be a mistake to give in.”

The row recalls past controversies such as when Macron in 2019 declared NATO was experiencing “brain death”Or when last year he angered central and eastern European allies by saying Russia would need security guarantees when it came time to negotiate a peace deal with Ukraine.

Mujtaba Rahman, head of Europe at research firm Eurasia Group, said Macron’s latest comments were poorly timed. “To make these comments Chinese military exercise encircles Taiwan – and just after his state visit to China – there was a mistake. This will be interpreted as appeasement of Beijing and green light to Chinese aggression.

Rahman said that Macron’s interview was being seen as a parting gift to Xi – “another wasted attempt (after Putin) to sweet-talk an autocrat” – and suggested that the French President Must be trying to increase his poll rating France Following de Gaulle. Rahman said, “More likely, Macron was just Macron, interestingly thinking ahead but not measuring the immediate political impact of his words.”

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