Macron Cautions Europe Not to Become “the Vassal” of Washington
Comments made by French President Emmanuel Macron on his return from China set off a storm of protests within the transatlantic world. In an interview on April 9 with Les Echos, he stated that “strategic autonomy” is crucial to prevent European states from becoming “vassals,” adding that Europe can be “the third pole” versus the United States and China. “We do not want to enter into a bloc against bloc logic,” he said.
Specifically on the question of Taiwan, he noted that the Chinese are concerned about their unity. “The question for us Europeans is: Do we have an interest in accelerating the Taiwan issue? No. The worst thing would be to think that we Europeans must be followers [of the United States] on this issue.” Speaking to journalists on his travel back to France, Emmanuel Macron had reportedly spoken “even more frankly” on the issue, but the Elysee did not allow full publication of his remarks. As concerns Ukraine, however, he maintained the NATO line, that Europe must accelerate a war economy to counter the threats.
The French President had two major meetings with President Xi Jinping for a total of eight hours, and participated in important cultural events, while a number of trade deals were signed by the dozens of French business leaders who also made the trip to China.
Such preferential treatment, however, was not extended to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who had traveled with the French President. She had many rather low-level meetings, which confirms the Chinese preference for dealing with international relations on a bilateral level. And contrary to Macron, she displayed her usual brashness by meddling in China’s internal affairs.
Similar arrogance was shown by German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who was in China on April 14, en route to the G7 meeting in Japan, where she issued provocations and empty threats to her Chinese interlocutors. They reportedly do not give much weight to her remarks.