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After China visit, Emmanuel Macron warns Europe on support for Taiwan

“If the tensions between the two superpowers heat up … we won’t have the time nor the resources to finance our strategic autonomy and we will become vassals,” Macron told the travelling journalists.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech at the Sun Yat-sen university in Guangzhou, China.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech at the Sun Yat-sen university in Guangzhou, China.Credit: AP

“The paradox would be that, overcome with panic, we believe we are just America’s followers.

“The question Europeans need to answer … is it in our interest to accelerate [a crisis] on Taiwan? No. The worse thing would be to think that we Europeans must become followers on this topic and take our cue from the US agenda and a Chinese overreaction.

“Europeans cannot resolve the crisis in Ukraine; how can we credibly say on Taiwan, ‘watch out, if you do something wrong we will be there’? If you really want to increase tensions that’s the way to do it,” he said.

France has long held out an ambivalence for US power and influence over Europe. France, for example, forced the withdrawal of NATO headquarters from Paris in 1967 over fears of US political sway over the continent. Macron has also supported the creation of a European army that could function in place of NATO.

Politico said that Macron conducted the interview in the stateroom of his A330 aircraft wearing a hoodie with the words “French Tech” written across the front.

A short time later, he released on his social media channels a video of his visit to China that showed him being swarmed by Chinese citizens who would have been carefully selected by the CCP.

That carefully engineered interaction is in stark contrast to scenes at home following weeks of strikes and fires in Paris, following major protests over his plan to raise the pension age.

Macron’s comments on Taiwan are more conciliatory to Beijing than those made by EU Commission boss Ursula von der Leyen, who has taken a tougher stance on China, and whom Macron invited to accompany him on parts of his visit to Beijing.

The trio held a trilateral in which Xi gave talking points on all topics except for two. He went off script when Ukraine and Taiwan was raised, according to a source in the room.

After, von der Leyen told reporters that security in the Taiwan Strait was of “paramount importance” and that the threat of force to change the status quo was “unacceptable”.

Macron’s comments sparked widespread dismay and anger across Europe and in the United States where the Republican senator Marco Rubio urged the Europeans to clarify “pretty quickly” if Macron spoke for Europe or France alone.

“We need to ask Europe does he speak for them because we’re pretty heavily involved in Ukraine right now, we’re spending a lot of our taxpayer money on a European war,” he said in a video statement.

“And I’ve supported that because I think that’s in the national interest to the United States to be allies to our allies.

“But if our allies’ position, if in fact Macron speaks for all of Europe, and their position now is they’re not going to pick sides between the US and China over Taiwan, maybe we shouldn’t be picking sides either?

“Maybe we should say we’re going to be focussing on Taiwan and the threats that China poses and you guys handle Ukraine on your own?”

German foreign policy scholar and China-watcher Ulrich Speck said Macron’s comments vindicated Australia’s decision to tear up its contract for French-made submarines in favour of the AUKUS pact.

“What Macron says about Taiwan — the core security theme in the Indo-Pacific — vindicates the Australian decision to cancel the submarine deal with France and to create AUKUS with the UK and the US,” he said.

Malcolm Davis from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute described Macron’s positioning as “appallingly bad policy”.

“So, don’t count on France to support the US and its Indo-Pacific allies in a China Taiwan crisis,” he said.

“Where France leads will Europe follow?

“This is appallingly bad policy by Macron in the face of a concerted and growing challenge to liberal democracies by authoritarian adversaries China and Russia.

Bruno Tertrais, deputy director at France’s leading defence think tank Foundation for Strategic Research (FRS) said Macron was wrong on Taiwan.

“The best way to avoid a war over Taiwan is deterrence,” he said.

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