French President Emmanuel Macron said over the weekend that Europe should embrace an approach of “strategic autonomy” when it comes to tensions between the United States and China.
The French president said that by allying too closely with the U.S., Europe risks being dragged into conflicts and crises in which it does not have a significant interest. “Strategic autonomy,” as Macron calls it, is his plan to lead Europe into becoming a “third superpower,” according to POLITICO.
“The paradox would be that, overcome with panic, we believe we are just America’s followers,” Macron said on Sunday. “The question Europeans need to answer … is it in our interest to accelerate [a crisis] on Taiwan? No. The worse thing would be to think that we Europeans must become followers on this topic and take our cue from the U.S. agenda and a Chinese overreaction.”
Macron’s theory of “strategic autonomy” has found widespread support in Beijing, where top officials in the Chinese Communist Party have endorsed it and often encourage other European nations to embrace it as well.
The president’s remarks came after he visited Beijing last week and spent roughly six hours with Chinese President Xi Jinping discussing the potential for peace in the war between Russia and Ukraine. Macron’s visit appears to have had little impact on that account.
Macron sought to push China into leaning on Russia to negotiate an end to the war that has ravaged Ukraine for more than a year.
“China is willing to jointly appeal with France to the international community to remain rational and calm,” Xi said during a joint press conference with Macron.
“Peace talks should be resumed as soon as possible, taking into account the reasonable security concerns of all sides with reference to the U.N. Charter … seeking political resolution and constructing a balanced, effective and sustainable European security framework,” he added.
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Macron’s China visit worked against U.S. interests in “decoupling” the West from China. The U.S. has grown increasingly at odds with China in recent years over complaints about unfair trade practices and China’s territorial aggression, most recently focused against neighboring Taiwan, a key trading partner for the United States.
While projecting an appearance of nonpartisanship in the war, China has strengthened its relationship with Russia, buying increasing amounts of Russian crude while reportedly shipping Moscow weapons, munitions, and drone parts. Xi visited Moscow last month, visiting with Russian President Vladimir Putin during what Beijing called a “journey of peace.”