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TRIBUNE – The former president of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly reacts to comments made by Emmanuel Macron during his trip to China on April 9. The President of the Republic had called on the European Union not to "be a follower" of the United States or China on the Taiwan question.
Source: © Pierre Lellouche: "The lessons of Macron's trip to China"

TRIBUNE – The former president of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly reacts to comments made by Emmanuel Macron during his trip to China on April 9. The President of the Republic had called on the European Union not to "be a follower" of the United States or China on the Taiwan question.

It is not de Gaulle who wants. Fifty-nine years ago, in January 1964, the General had been the first, soon to be followed by all the Western powers, to recognize the China Mao's communist. Establishing the idea of ​​a France certainly allied with USA, but free and independent between the two blocks of the time.


In April 2023, alas, Emmanuel Macron's trip to China will have brought to light the downgrading at the same time as the inconsistency of France's foreign policy. Economy, Ukraine, “European sovereignty”, none of the three objectives of this visit will have been achieved. Quite the contrary.

On the first part, apart from a second Airbus factory built in China rather than in France, where are the Chinese investments here (barely 500 million euros in 2021), where is the commitment from Beijing to promote less unbalanced trade, when China alone accounts for a quarter of our abysmal foreign trade deficit (40 billion euros out of 164 billion)?

On the contrary, Macron let Total, for the first time, write its hydrocarbon contracts with China in yuan, and not in dollars. A major breakthrough for Beijing, which is actively seeking to dedollarize international trade to counter the dominance of the greenback and the sanctions attached to it.


Ukraine? For mysterious reasons which belong to him, Macron had got it into his head to make China the peacemaker in Ukraine. Xi Jinping, it was insisted in the entourage of the French president, is the only one capable of influencing Putin. On his own, Xi was the “game changer”.

Curious idea really, to make China the arbiter, at the same time as the architect of peace, on the European continent! Especially when, on the French side, we refrain from doing the same in Taiwan...

Even more curious is the idea that China is neutral, and therefore potentially a mediator in the Ukrainian conflict. Without being militarily allied with Russia (at least not yet), China is Putin's "friend", from which it buys the raw materials under embargo in the West, and to which it supplies the industrial and electronic components essential to its effort. of war.

What Macron does not want to see is that China has been building for months, with Russia and the Brics, an anti-American and anti-Western front, aiming to put an end to the American order of 1945 once and for all. no case, China will seek defeat or failure for Moscow, the partner with which it intends to exploit the changes in the balance of power in the world, "the most important for a hundred years", according to Xi.

The commotion to exist

But let's push the reasoning to the point of absurdity: even supposing that China had agreed to openly pressure Putin to impose a ceasefire on him, could we really imagine for a single second that Putin consented to give in publicly, thus consecrating his failure and his status as a vassal of Beijing? Predictably, the Kremlin, once again, immediately brushed aside Macron's initiative...

Unsurprisingly, therefore, the president is there too, returned empty-handed to Paris: his attempt at mediation through China, met the same fate as those repeatedly attempted directly with Putin. The whole planet did not fail to notice this, undermining France's international credibility a little more. After the failure of clumsy attempts in the direction of Moscow, did we need another spectacular setback in Beijing? Agitation, in order to "exist", cannot take the place of foreign policy.

There remained then the great Macronian ambition stated in the famous speech of the Sorbonne in 2017: to embody the famous “European sovereignty”. To do this, Macron, wanting to play collectively, had conceived the baroque idea of ​​being accompanied by Mme von der Leyen, the uncontrollable President of the Commission. With, as was to be expected, the exact opposite effect to that sought: bringing to light the fundamental differences within the Union as to the policy to be followed with regard to China, the rising superpower.

Towards a multipolar world?

While Ursula von der Leyen, also a candidate for the post of Secretary General of NATO, had just formulated a tough position a few days earlier, close to Biden's strategy of confrontation, Macron meanwhile took hold of the Taiwanese file. to claim just the opposite.

Undoubtedly convinced by Xi's rhetoric on the next three-pole multipolar world (United States, China, Europe), Macron will even go so far as to proclaim, in front of French and American journalists, his intention to refuse any "follow-up" of the United States in its China containment strategy.

In the name of "European strategic autonomy", of which Macron proudly claims paternity, the president, speaking on behalf of Europeans, wonders as follows: “Do we have an interest in speeding up the subject of Taiwan? No. The worst thing would be to think that we Europeans should follow suit on this subject and adapt to the American rhythm and a Chinese overreaction. Statement that immediately aroused intense satisfaction in Beijing, but an outcry of criticism, even insults (Trump), everywhere else.

Starting with Europe, where from Berlin to Warsaw, we wanted to emphasize that Macron spoke only for himself. What "autonomy" is it, indeed, when the war in Ukraine is totally piloted by the United States and NATO, and without the help of the Pentagon, Ukraine would already be in the hands of the Russians?

Ukrainians or Taiwanese?

And how can France, "at the same time", be aligned with Washington in Ukraine and neutral, even equidistant on Taiwan? How can we hope for the victory of the first with the help of the United States, and abandon the second to China, in the name of European autonomy? All on the eve of impressive Chinese military maneuvers against Taiwan? Would the freedom of 48 million Ukrainians be worth more than that of 28 million Taiwanese?

With such variable geometry morality, is it surprising that the “global South” hardly feels concerned by Ukraine, and prefers an attitude of benevolent neutrality with regard to Russia?

And how can we finally claim that a crisis in Taiwan would not concern us, even though Macron himself wishes, rightly moreover, to affirm France as a power in the Indo-Pacific, thanks to our presence in New Caledonia and Polynesia? Clearly, the consequences of such a conflict would be immense in Asia and around the world, if only because Taiwan is the world's semiconductor factory.

After Macron's failure in Lebanon, the deafening silence on Armenia for the price of Azeri gas, the expulsion of France from the Sahel, the discord with the Maghreb, the humiliation of the Australian submarine affair, the failed mediations with Moscow and now the fiasco of the trip to China, the results are hardly glorious...


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