By Dave DeCamp / Antiwar.com
French President Emmanuel Macron said Sunday that Europe should not follow the US and risk a confrontation with China over Taiwan as he was returning to France from a visit to Beijing, where he met with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
In a conversation with POLITICO, Macron discussed his desire for Europe to have “strategic autonomy” and to become a “third superpower,” which he said wouldn’t be able to happen if Europe is involved in a conflict over Taiwan. He said Europe faces a “great risk” if it “gets caught up in crises that are not ours, which prevents it from building its strategic autonomy.”
The French leader said in a crisis, Europeans might be “overcome with panic” and “believe we are just America’s followers.” He asked if a crisis over Taiwan would be in Europe’s interest.
“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,” Macron said.
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Increasing US support for Taiwan has made a conflict more likely as China has ramped up its military pressure on the island. China’s People’s Liberation Army is currently conducting major exercises in the Taiwan Strait in response to US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA) meeting with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.
Macron added that Europeans don’t have the credibility to really threaten to intervene in Taiwan. “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.
Macron broke with the US over Beijing’s efforts to push for peace talks between Russia and Ukraine. While in Beijing, Macron told Xi that he could “count” on the Chinese leader “to bring Russia to its sense and bring everyone back to the negotiating table.”
The position is drastically different than President Biden’s as the White House came out against a ceasefire in Ukraine ahead of Xi’s recent trip to Moscow and immediately rejected the idea of Beijing as a mediator after China released a 12-point peace plan.
Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.