Macron comments leave senior Taiwanese official ‘puzzled’

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French President Emmanuel Macron poses for a photo with Chinese President Xi Jinping after meeting the press at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, Thursday, April 6, 2023. Ng Han Guan/Pool via REUTERS

Comments by French President Emmanuel Macron on Taiwan are puzzling, a senior Taiwanese politician said, wondering whether France’s founding ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity are now out of fashion.

Macron, in comments in an interview on a trip to China that was meant to showcase European unity on China policy, cautioned against being drawn into a crisis over Taiwan driven by an “American rhythm and a Chinese overreaction”.

He also called for the European Union to reduce its dependence on the United States and to become a “third pole” in world affairs alongside Washington and Beijing.

Taiwan parliament speaker You Si-kun, writing on Facebook late Tuesday above a screengrab of a report about Macron’s comments on Taiwan, questioned the French commitment to freedom.

“Are ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité’ out of fashion?,” he wrote, referring to the official French motto of “liberty, equality, fraternity”.

“Is it OK just to ignore this once it’s part of the constitution? Or can advanced democratic countries ignore the lives and deaths of people in other countries?” added You, one of the founders of Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party. “The actions of President Macron, a leading international democracy, leave me puzzled.”

China has been staging military exercises around Taiwan since Saturday after Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen returned from a trip to the United States, where she met U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

France, like most countries, has no formal diplomatic relations with Chinese-claimed Taiwan but maintains a de facto embassy in Taipei and has joined other U.S. allies in underscoring the need for peace in the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry on Tuesday sought to downplay Macron’s remarks, though said they had “noted” what he said.

“The Foreign Ministry expresses its thanks to France for expressing concern about peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait many times and in many different international venues,” including, for example at the recent French-British leaders summit, spokesperson Jeff Liu told reporters. “This is a continuation of France’s consistent stance and position.”

SOURCE: REUTERS

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