Is Europe Divided Over Taiwan?

The flag of Taiwan | Image by Artit Wongpradu/Shutterstock

European divisions over how best to posture with regard to Taiwan have become more apparent following comments made by French President Emmanuel Macron.

In an interview with Politico published last week, following a three-day diplomatic visit to China, Macron said:

“The paradox would be that, overcome with panic, we believe we are just America’s followers. 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.”

His words sparked strong reactions in the United States, particularly among Republican lawmakers.

“If in fact Macron speaks for all of Europe, and their position now is they’re not going to pick sides between the U.S. and China over Taiwan, then maybe we shouldn’t be picking sides either. Maybe we should basically say we’re going to focus on Taiwan and the threats that China poses, and you guys handle Ukraine and Europe,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in a video posted to Twitter.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) tweeted, “Stunning. Even the left-wing leaders of Europe—whom Biden has assiduously courted (and obsequiosly [sic] ass-kissed)—are openly screwing the U.S.”

As previously reported in The Dallas Express, there has been growing tension between the United States and China in recent years over the question of Taiwan, which China considers part of its sovereign territory. China has previously suggested it would establish political control over the self-governing island by military force if need be.

Still, Macron’s comments elicited some mixed reactions in Europe, with some Eastern European officials suggesting that Europe should maintain a strong posturing alongside the United States.

“Instead of building strategic autonomy from the United States, I propose a strategic partnership with the United States,” said Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, per CNN.

On Tuesday, Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, said “We have consistently called for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and we stand strongly against any unilateral change of the status quo, in particular by the use of force.”

Asked about Macron’s comments on Tuesday at a press briefing in Japan for the G-7 Summit, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said:

“[A] number of partners spoke directly to their views, to their countries’ views, on the broader relationship with China and the more specific question of Taiwan. And as I said a moment ago, in my experience we actually have not seen greater convergence at any other time in the approach than we see now, both with Europe as well as with key countries in Asia.”

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