PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron has caused a stir by saying Europe has no interest in accelerating the conflict in Taiwan and should become a “third pole” independent of both Washington and Beijing.
Political actors on both sides of the Atlantic criticized the president’s position as being too accommodating of China, just as it carries out military drills around Taiwan.
In an interview with French newspaper Les Echos and Politico during his three-day visit to China last week, Macron said “the worst thing would be to think that we Europeans must become followers on this topic and adapt to the American rhythm or a Chinese overreaction.”
China views democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control. Taiwan’s government strongly objects to China’s claims.
German MP for the Bundestag’s foreign committee Norbert Roettgen said in a tweet that Macron had “managed to turn his China trip into a PR coup for Xi and a foreign policy disaster for Europe.” He added that the French president was “increasingly isolating himself in Europe.”
In a video posted on Twitter, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., drew parallels with the war in Ukraine — on which Macron hopes to enlist the help of China.
If Europe doesn’t “pick sides between the U.S. and China over Taiwan, then maybe we shouldn’t be picking sides either [on Ukraine],” the Republican senator said.
Pascal Confavreux, spokesperson for the French Embassy in the United States, said that Macron’s comments had been overinterpreted.
“The U.S. is our ally with whom we share our values,” he said on Twitter.
The Elysee did not respond to requests for comment.