China-US, Macron ‘clarifies’: “No equidistance”

Note from the Elysee on the content of the French president’s interview on the EU

There is no equidistance between China and the US. The Elysée ‘clarifies’ the content of the French President Emmanuel Macron’s interview with ‘Les Echos’ and ‘Politico Europe’, in which he urges the EU not to be a “vassal” of the United States and China. An interview that is causing great controversy.

“The President of the Republic has often said that France is not in a position of equidistance between the United States and China – reads the note from the Elysée – The United States are our allies, we share common values. China is at the same time ‘a partner, a competitor and a systemic rival’ (as stated in the 2019 EU strategy) with which we want to build a common agenda to reduce tensions and address key global and international issues”.

The French presidency recalls that “our position on Taiwan is constant: we support the status quo and maintain exchanges and cooperation with Taiwan, which is a recognized democratic system”.

In the long note, the Elysee reiterates that “Europeans have their own interests and they must pursue them transparently and loyally with their international allies and partners: a sovereign Europe is necessary for world balance, whether it is trade, promoting our values, respecting the law, developing and maintaining international peace and security. It must be able to make its unique voice heard.”

“Creating new opportunities for cooperation to avoid clashes between blocs and promote effective multilateralism, in a common framework for all those who want to act is the best way to involve China and avoid the fragmentation of the world”, underlines the presidency again, which then he speaks of the need to “maintain an open Indo-Pacific, based on respect for international rules and cooperation in the face of global challenges”, a goal on which President Macron and US President Joe Biden “agree and have discussed” before the French leader’s trip to Beijing.

Finally, the Elysée affirms that “preserving the stability of the international order means avoiding China’s involvement in the war in Ukraine and involving it in efforts to negotiate a lasting solution. This also means preventing the increase of risks in the Taiwan Strait. The President della Repubblica also spoke about it with President Biden and clearly told President Xi Jinping that the question of Taiwan must be addressed through dialogue”.

Macron’s words

“Strategic autonomy must be Europe’s battle. We don’t want to depend on others on relevant issues. The day you no longer have a choice about energy, how to defend yourself, social media, artificial intelligence because we no longer have infrastructure on these issues, we risk going out of history for quite a while,” Macron said after his visit to China and his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Five years ago “strategic autonomy was a chimera. Today everyone is talking about it. It is an important change. We have equipped ourselves with defense and industrial policy tools. There have been many steps forward: the Chips Act, the Net Zero Industry Act and the Critical Raw Material Act, these European texts are the building blocks of our strategic autonomy. We started setting up factories for batteries, hydrogen and electronic components. And we equipped ourselves with defensive tools completely contrary to the European ideology only three or four years ago! Now we have very effective protection tools.”

For the French president, strategic autonomy is crucial to prevent EU states from becoming “vassals”: “The trap for Europe would be that while it is clarifying its strategic position, while it becomes more strategically autonomous compared to the pre-Covid period , finds itself confronted with an alteration of the world and confronted with crises that are not ours. If there is an acceleration of the conflagration of the duopoly (China and the USA, ed) we will no longer have the time or the means to finance our autonomy strategic and we will become vassals while we can be the third pole if we have a few years to build it”.

“Macron is perfectly right in demanding European independence and sovereignty as he has been doing since 2017. We do not have the vocation because we are allies of the United States – and of course we are their allies, we share values ​​and many economic interests in common – to be against China. We must not get involved in this rivalry between the United States and China. We want to build Europe’s independence, strengthen it,” said the French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire commenting on the president’s statements.

“What President Macron said is necessary: ​​we must build European independence,” Le Maire stressed. “On economic, financial and geopolitical issues, Europe must have its own strategic thinking. It is allied with the USA but does not necessarily have the same strategic thinking as the United States. Just think that the USA, on issues that are economic that are mine, Do they wonder what the impacts of their Inflation Reduction Act will be for Europe when they decide to strengthen US economic interests and subsidize their industry? No. We must also learn to defend our own interests,” added Le Maire.

The European Union “must walk on its own legs, especially in matters of security and foreign policy, but it must also realistically assess its own weaknesses. Without the USA, EU states are not even able today to supply sufficient ammunition to the “Ukraine. Without the US, how can we deal with China, which is a systemic rival?”, said the president of the EPP and the EP parliamentary group Manfred Weber.