French President Emmanuel Macron said in an interview published on Sunday that Europe must not be a “follower” of either the US or China on Taiwan, saying that the bloc risks entanglement in “crises that aren’t ours”.
His comments risk riling Washington and highlight divisions in the European Union over how to approach China, as the US steps up a confrontation with its closest rival and Beijing draws closer to Russia in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine.
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“The worst thing would be to think that we Europeans must be followers and adapt ourselves to the American rhythm and a Chinese overreaction,” Macron told media including French business daily Les Echos and Politico as he returned on Friday from a three-day state visit to Beijing.
Citing his prized ideal of EU “strategic autonomy”, the French leader said that “we must be clear where our views overlap with the US, but whether it’s about Ukraine, relations to China or sanctions, we have a European strategy.” “We don’t want to get into a bloc versus bloc logic,” he added, saying Europe “should not be caught up in a disordering of the world and crises that aren’t ours”.
China views democratic, self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed to take it one day, by force if necessary.
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Macron discussed Taiwan with Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Friday, during a visit in which he was feted but more hawkish EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was kept mostly at arm’s length.
His Elysee Palace office said the talks had been “dense and frank” and that the French president was concerned about “growing tensions in the region” that could lead to “a terrible accident”.