Macron’s Taiwan comments: right or reckless?
Emmanuel Macron’s statements on the China-Taiwan conflict continue to cause a stir. After his visit to Beijing with Ursula von der Leyen, Macron told the business paper Les Echos that Europe should not act as a "follower" of the US on the issue of Taiwan, drawing promt criticism from France’s allies. While some commentators take the president to task, others don’t understand the fuss.
Major damage with just a few sentences
Macron’s speech was disastrous, the Süddeutsche Zeitung rails:
“Macron’s talk of Europe as an autonomous power that must maintain equidistance from America and China was not only not coordinated with the other EU governments, it was an attack on European and transatlantic unity. Macron used the most stupid and dusty Gaullist relic of an argument — that the Europeans must free themselves from the alleged eternal American paternalism. With his interview, the French president has driven a wedge in Europe’s relationship with the US and at the same time torn open a rift across Europe. Quite a feat to cause so much damage with just a few sentences.”
Parisian anti-Americanism is nothing new
Macron could hardly be more wrong in his statements, Onet claims:
“France has a tradition of expressing its independence, grandeur and imperial ambitions in the language of dislike for the United States. This was the case in 1966, when then-president Charles de Gaulle took France out of Nato’s military structures at the height of the Cold War because of the US’s leading role in the alliance. Or when Macron declared that Nato was brain dead. Three years after this statement it has become clear that Nato, under US leadership, is the only international organisation capable of containing Russian aggression.”
Sensible conservative politics
The pro-government daily Magyar Nemzet praises Macron:
“The US is the world’s number one superpower, but not everyone thinks that following Washington is the only way to go. Not even Macron, as his statements show. As the EU’s only nuclear power and a permanent member of the UN Security Council, Paris believes that the EU deserves a place on the world stage and that it would be a strategic mistake to keep following the big and strong US around like a faithful dog. ... The politician who was once a celebrated star of the liberals nowadays pursues a sensible, strict conservative policy.”
Good cop, bad cop
Von der Leyen and Macron played very different roles in China, Le Soir notes:
“As von der Leyen had already made clear in Brussels, her China policy now focuses on reorientation and ‘risk reduction’ so that the EU limits its dependence and regains its autonomy in the most essential sectors. She made this clear to Xi Jinping and China’s Premier Li Qiang. ... By contrast, Macron played the positive card of personal closeness to Xi Jinping and stressed the key role that powerful China can play in resolving the Ukraine conflict. ... Although it looked a bit like ‘good cop, bad cop’, the EU likely succeeded in getting important messages across to its Chinese partner.”
A joint peace plan on the horizon?
Radio Kommersant FM marvels at Beijing’s advance support for a potential European peace initiative for Ukraine:
“On 7 April, when it seemed that the geopolitical issues remained unresolved, Xi Jinping proposed to Emmanuel Macron that he draw up his own peace plan, adding that China would support it and play a constructive role in its implementation. An a priori agreement doesn’t suit the cautious and diplomatic Beijing at all. Apparently, the two heads of state and the EU Commission President nevertheless found time to talk in detail about the possible stages of a settlement of the conflict.”