It is not the first time that the French president Emmanuel Macron talk to journalists open grave. He already did it in the past when he assured that NATO was “brain dead” and he has raised dust again with his words, when, on the return trip from Beijing to Paris, he decided to give an interview to the digital Político and to the French newspaper Les Echos, in which he criticizes the European following of the United States in the cold war with China.
“The question for us Europeans is: do we have an interest in things speeding up in Taiwan? No. The worst thing would be to think that we Europeans must blindly continue on this issue, adapting to the US pace and Chinese overreactions. Why should we have to follow a rhythm that others have chosen for us? At a certain point, we must ask ourselves the question of our own interests… It would be paradoxical, as we establish the elements of a true European strategic autonomy, if we suddenly started to follow US policy in a kind of panic response. has assured the French president, who also defends that the European Union becomes a “third superpower”.
Some statements that have raised blisters on both sides of the Atlantic. On the one hand, Washington has always wanted recruit the Europeans for their cold war with Beijing and, after the failure of the withdrawal of the troops from Afghanistan, relations seemed to be on track with the response to the war in Ukraine.
On the other hand, within the community club there persist different sensitivities about China. In November, Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s visit to Beijing alone and with a delegation of German businessmen was harshly criticized, considering that Germany was putting its commercial interests with the Asian giant ahead of a unitary position. European Union and that, with this policy of appeasement, Scholz was repeating the same mistakes as his predecessor Angela Merkel with regard to Vladimir Putin.
On this occasion, Macron decided to invite the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, as a symbol of unity. But not all countries feel represented by the words of the Élysée tenant and the shadow of the division has once again loomed over the European chancelleries.
The president of the popular Europeans and leader of the parliamentary group in the European Parliament, the German Manfred Weber, has assured on social networks that “to protect our freedom, democrats must be together in defense of a world based on rules, in Ukraine and Taiwan. We must strengthen our alliance with the US.” Along the same lines, Norbert Röttgen, a conservative German parliamentarian and former chairman of the Bundestag Foreign Committee, considers that this trip has been a “public relations coup” for Beijing and a “foreign policy disaster for Europe.” According to Röttgen, Macron “with this idea of sovereignty that is defined in terms of distance instead of partnership with the United States, is isolating itself in Europe.”
The American State Department has wanted to calm the waters, by assuring through its spokespersons that there continues to be an “immense convergence” between the United States and the European Union with respect to China, but this opinion is not shared by the entire political spectrum. Mike Gallagher, a leading figure in the Republican Party, has assured Fox that the French president’s comments are “shameful”, “a massive propaganda victory for the communist party” that goes in the direction of “divide Americans and Europeans”, just as Beijing wishes. Republican Senator Marcos Rubio has also stated that “perhaps we should say we are going to focus on Taiwan and the threat posed by China and you take care of Ukraine and Europe.”
The spokespersons for the European Commission have not wanted to comment on Macron’s statements, but they have clarified that the European position is defined by the speech delivered by the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, before embarking on her trip to Beijing. Also deny that von der Leyen was belittled by Chinese protocol, since his trip did not have the character of head of state, as was the case with that of the French president. This controversy comes days before the highest representative of community diplomacy, Josep Borrell, also travels to China.
“I believe that it is not viable – nor is it in the interest of Europe – to disassociate itself from China. Our relations are not black or white and our response cannot be,” von der Leyen said in the aforementioned speech, later advocating “a lower risk, not disassociation.”
German policy recognizes that the EU cannot cut off its relationship with the Asian giant and that it must try to balance it through a system to control that European investments and their experts do not end up strengthening the military and intelligence capabilities of “systemic rivals”. ” like Beijing. The European Commission will present a proposal to this effect before the end of the year.