Europe’s third-way autonomy would be a mighty thing for the Elysée Palace, especially given French pretensions in steering it, notes ‘Counter Punch’.
After all, Frau “Mutti” Merkel is no longer de facto European chief, presiding over the bloc with matronly care. Her successor, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, is finding himself caught in undergrowth, a difficult thing at times for the continent’s largest economy, and the globe’s fourth.
What, then, of the fuss?
In the first place, Macron had company on his Beijing visit: on his first day of the trip, the European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had decided to come along. This was never going to go well, given their respective views over the Middle Kingdom. Von der Leyen, for one, uses a larded management approach to Beijing, ringing the relationship with restrictions and signals of constipation. On Taiwan’s status, she sticks to the warring line embraced by policy makers stretching from Canberra to Washington. Macron, at least in one sense, understands the power of China to be not only inextinguishable but a logical weight against the US.
The fuss then began in earnest with Macron’s remarks, made on his plane, the Cotam Unité, after the three-day visit. To reporters from Politico and Les Echos, he began conventionally, reiterating the view that Europe should be a third power, a counterweight to Washington and Beijing.
But it was his remarks on Taiwan that caused some bristling across a number of quarters. “Do we [Europeans],” he posed to Les Echos, “have an interest in speeding up on the subject of Taiwan? No. The worst of things would be to think that we Europeans must be followers on this subject and adapt ourselves to an American rhythm and a Chinese overreaction.”
The mania over Taiwan’s fate constituted a potential “trap for Europe”, landing it in crises “that are not ours”. The heating up of the US-Sino conflict would frustrate European ambitions, be it in terms of time or finance, to develop “our own strategic autonomy and we will become vassals, whereas we could become the third pole [in the world order] if we have a few years to develop this”.
Those familiar with the Macron recipe have seen it before. An interview of frankness acts as kindling. The fire rages. Then come the explainers, clarifications, points of qualification. The fire abates. In 2019, he warned of NATO’s “brain death”.
Representatives of the US empire-set, nervously clinging to orb, sceptre, and some misguided sense of civilisation, sneered and scoffed.
The remarks from Macron had been “embarrassing”, “disgraceful”, and “very geopolitically naïve.”
The Washington Post viewed the visit as one that “angered politicians and analysts on both sides of the Atlantic, highlighting gaps between the US and French approaches to China, showcasing division within the European Union – and probably delighting Beijing.”
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