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Taiwan responds to Macron's reluctance to 'follow US' on China

MOFA says France maintains consistent cross-strait position

French President Emmanuel Macron, front right, arrives at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China Friday, April 7, 2023.

French President Emmanuel Macron, front right, arrives at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China Friday, April 7, 2023. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said the French government has repeatedly expressed concern about peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, in response to French President Emmanuel Macron's remarks that France and the EU should not become a “vassal” of the U.S. regarding policy on China.

France’s 2022 national security review also highlighted greater competition with China in a “continuation of France's consistent position,” MOFA spokesperson Jeff Y.J. Liu (劉永健) said on Tuesday (April 11), per CNA. Liu also highlighted France’s recent ministerial level meetings with Australia and Japan, and the country’s Indo-Pacific Strategy Report, all of which indicated support for Taiwan or peace across the Taiwan Strait.

Macron was criticized for urging the EU to maintain strategic independence from the U.S. to avoid conflict with China. An inter-parliamentary group that aims to counter Chinese influence said in a statement on Tuesday that given the ongoing war in Ukraine, “this is the worst possible moment to send a signal of indifference over Taiwan.”

Dr. David J. Lorenzo, associate professor at the U.S.’s National Defense University, told Taiwan News that Macron’s comments appear intended for the EU, U.S., and Chinese leaders, and they are a continuation of Macron's previous framework. He believes Macron sees no strategic or security interests in Taiwan for the EU.

Lorenzo said Macron wants to signal that despite ties with the U.S., “that doesn't mean the EU should become embroiled in a conflict that arises over Taiwan, or any other matter that complicates its political and economic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC).”

Macron's remarks were likely influenced by conversations with Chinese leader Xi Jinping regarding President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) recent visits to America, Lorenzo said. “It appears that Macron is pushing further a framework he has previously set out which sees the EU as a third pole that stands between the PRC and the U.S.”

Disclaimer: The views expressed by Associate Professor Dr. David J. Lorenzo are personal views and do not reflect the views of the Joint Forces Staff College, the National Defense University, or the U.S. Department of Defense.