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EDITORIAL | Macron’s Remarks Will Put Taiwan in Jeopardy, Embolden China

Is it a coincidence that President Emmanuel Macron’s China-friendly Taiwan remarks come after Beijing orders 120 planes from French manufacturer?

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France, Taiwan
French President Emmanuel Macron speaks at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China, April 7 (© AP = Kyodo)

In an interview with a French newspaper, French President Emmanuel Macron remarked that Europe should take an independent stance and not follow either Washington or Beijing regarding Taiwan. He had just returned from a state trip to China.

The interview in question was held on April 7 and reported on April 9. This was after China began military exercises around Taiwan to oppose Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen's stopovers in the United States.

It's hard to believe that the leader of France, a prominent member of the G7 and a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, would make such a statement.  

Macron's remarks hamper the efforts of the international community and the Taiwanese people to pursue peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. They also hinder efforts to protect Taiwan's freedom and democracy.

Taiwan
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and French President Emmanuel Macron talk during a family photo with G7 leaders at NATO Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, March 24, 2022. Doug Mills/Pool via REUTERS

Undoing International Efforts for Peace

His careless words have been condemned by the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), a group of parliamentarians from democratic countries. Hopefully, Macron will reflect on his remarks and retract them.

Beijing is eager to prevent other countries from supporting Taiwan, while also claiming that the Taiwan issue is a matter of internal politics. Macron's comments will only embolden China and put Taiwan in jeopardy.

The common denominator between Russia's invasion of Ukraine and China's annexation of Taiwan is despotism that attempts to change the status quo by force. If Macron is unable to see this, it brings into question whether he is qualified to lead an advanced democracy.

Meanwhile, President Ursula von der Leyen of the European Commission, who was traveling in China with Macron, was correct to challenge Xi Jinping over the Taiwan issue. 

The G7 leaders' summit of 2021, which Macron also attended, released a statement stressing the importance of preserving peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. France also signed off on the G7 foreign ministers' statements of August and November 2022, which expressed a similar position.

France
Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with French President Emmanuel Macron (left) during his visit to China at the Great Hall of the eople in Beijing on April 6. (© Reuters via Kyodo)

Coincidentally, An Order for 160 Airbus Jets

Furthermore, until now, France has placed an emphasis on preserving a Free and Open Indo-Pacific. The French military has even visited Japan to conduct joint drills with the Japan Self-Defense Forces.

When French navy ships sailed through the Taiwan Strait, it undoubtedly encouraged the people of Taiwan. But his recent remarks question whether Macron is aware of any of this.

Macron's trip also coincided with the Chinese order of 160 jets from major French aircraft manufacturer Airbus. But it is unacceptable to disregard universal values such as peace, freedom, and democracy for economic interests.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida is the chairman of the G7 Hiroshima Summit to be held in May 2023. The situation in Ukraine and Taiwan will be the top agenda at the summit. Macron is breaking stride with the G7 and must be persuaded to change his mind.

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(Read the editorial in Japanese.)

Author: Editorial Board, The Sankei Shimbun