Following six hours of talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke to a Politico reporter and two French journalists aboard COTAM Unité, France’s Air Force One this weekend. He discussed his concept of “strategic autonomy for Europe, presumably led by France, to become a third superpower.”
Specifically, Macron said Europe’s “greatest risk” is getting “caught up in crises that are not ours,” such as a potential conflict between the U.S. and China over Taiwan. This, he explained, would hinder Europe’s efforts to build “strategic autonomy.”
Politico reported that “Macron and Xi discussed Taiwan intensely.”
“The paradox would be that, overcome with panic, we believe we are just America’s followers,” Macron told the reporters. “The question Europeans need to answer … is it in our interest to accelerate [a crisis] on Taiwan? No. The worse thing would be to think that we Europeans must become followers on this topic and take our cue from the U.S. agenda and a Chinese overreaction.”
He also said that “Europe must reduce its dependency on the United States.” Politico writes that “weakening the transatlantic relationship” is part of the Chinese Communist Party’s strategy.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen was present for part of Macron’s visit. According to Politico, speaking to the press after a meeting on Thursday, she said she told Xi, “Stability in the Taiwan Strait is of paramount importance. The threat [of] the use of force to change the status quo is unacceptable.”
Politico reported, “Xi responded by saying anyone who thought they could influence Beijing on Taiwan was deluded.”
Regarding that exchange, Macron told reporters:
Europeans cannot resolve the crisis in Ukraine; how can we credibly say on Taiwan, ‘watch out, if you do something wrong we will be there’? If you really want to increase tensions that’s the way to do it.
According to “someone who was in the room” for the meeting between Xi, Macron and von der Leyen:
Xi was visibly annoyed for being held responsible for the Ukraine conflict and he downplayed his recent visit to Moscow. He was clearly enraged by the U.S. and very upset over Taiwan, by the Taiwanese president’s transit through the U.S. and [the fact that] foreign policy issues were being raised by Europeans.
This source told Politico that during the meeting, “Macron and von der Leyen took similar lines on Taiwan.” But, in later meetings (following von der Leyen’s departure), Macron’s “tone was far more conciliatory than von der Leyen’s when speaking with journalists.”
Macron told Politico and the others that “Europe should reduce its dependence on the dollar.” He added that, “If the tensions between the two superpowers heat up … we won’t have the time nor the resources to finance our strategic autonomy and we will become vassals.”
China is also taking steps to challenge the dominance of the U.S. dollar in foreign trade. For the moment, the dollar’s supremacy as the global currency remains secure, according to the Wall Street Journal. But “the share of U.S. dollars in foreign-exchange reserves of global central banks has slipped in recent years.”
One can only imagine how pleased Xi must have been with Macron’s visit.
President Joe Biden still refuses to take responsibility for the fallout from his disastrous decision to abruptly withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan in August 2021. He repeatedly rejects the narrative that his blunder triggered a major realignment in the global balance of power.
In addition to emboldening our enemies, our allies were forced to reevaluate their own reliance upon the U.S.
Macron’s appeasing words to Xi Jinping and to the journalists show that he no longer trusts the Biden administration. And really, who can blame him?