| 1 December 2023, Friday |

Europe presses tough Taiwan stance after backlash against Macron comments

On Friday, European foreign policy authorities sought to convey a robust stance against China’s threats against self-ruled Taiwan, after French President Emmanuel Macron’s words received criticism for being viewed as weak.

China has recently conducted heavy military drills surrounding Taiwan, which it claims as its own, and has never renounced the use of force to seize control of the democratic island.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, addressing the issue at a press conference in Beijing alongside her Chinese counterpart Qin Gang, said any attempt by China to control Taiwan would be unacceptable and would have serious repercussions for Europe.

EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell echoed her remarks in a statement prepared for a speech due to be delivered in Beijing at the Center for China and Globalization think tank on Friday that had to be cancelled due to him catching COVID-19.

“A military escalation in the Taiwan Strait, through which … 50% of world trade goes every day, would be a horror scenario for the entire world,” said Baerbock, adding it would have “inevitable repercussions” for European interests.

In interviews published after his trip to China last week, which was meant to showcase European unity on China policy, Macron cautioned against being drawn into a crisis over Taiwan driven by an “American rhythm and a Chinese overreaction”.

While many of the remarks were not new, the timing of their publication, and their bluntness, annoyed many Western officials.

“The European Union’s position (on Taiwan) is consistent and clear,” Borrell said in his prepared remarks. “Any attempt to change the status quo by force would be unacceptable.”

  • Reuters