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France won’t be US ‘vassal’ – Macron

The French president has doubled down on his Taiwan rhetoric after American criticism

Paris is an ally and not a “vassal” of Washington, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Wednesday, defending his comments about “strategic autonomy” of the EU when it comes to the rising tensions between the US and China.

“Being an ally does not mean being a vassal… doesn’t mean that we don’t have the right to think for ourselves,” Macron said in Amsterdam, at a joint press conference with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.

Asked for the French position on Taiwan, Macron said that Paris supports the status quo, meaning the “One China policy and the search for a peaceful resolution to the situation.”

Returning from his trip to China on Sunday, Macron had argued that the EU can’t be “just America’s followers,” and that it was not in the bloc’s interest to stoke tensions over Taiwan. “The worse thing would be to think that we Europeans must become followers on this topic and take our cue from the US agenda and a Chinese overreaction,” he had told reporters.

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Emmanuel Macron gestures as he speaks to students at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China, April 7, 2023
Macron refuses to back US line on China

The remarks earned him a swift rebuke from US Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican on the foreign affairs committee, who suggested Washington might leave the EU to handle the Ukraine conflict by itself. 

Taiwanese parliament speaker You Si-Kun on Tuesday argued that France had forsaken its motto of “liberty, equality, fraternity” and that advanced democracies should not “ignore the lives and deaths of people in other countries,” adding that Macron’s comments left him “puzzled.”

Meanwhile, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said that Macron was “perfectly right to demand European independence and sovereignty,” while the President of the European Council Charles Michel noted “quite a few” leaders of EU countries thought like Macron, even though they “wouldn’t say things the same way.”

When asked about the French president’s comments on Monday, the US State Department said that France was a long-standing ally and that occasional disagreements did not detract from a “deep partnership” with Paris. As for the EU position, a State Department spokesman cited a recent speech by the bloc’s president Ursula von der Leyen, which described China as “a national and economic security threat,” and said there was “immense convergence” between Washington and Brussels on the matter.

April 13, 2023 at 03:54AM

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