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The French Wobble in Beijing

A tale of two leaders.

Emmanuel Macron has made his one-time friends, including Marco from Florida, very mad.

Following his trip to Beijing, the French president repeatedly distanced himself from the United States on critical strategic issues — including the white-hot issue of China's intent to annex by force the democratic nation of Taiwan — in extended remarks to reporters.

More of the French wobble in Politico.

Europe must reduce its dependency on the United States and avoid getting dragged into a confrontation between China and the U.S. over Taiwan.

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.

The fallout

To see the impact of Macron's statements, look no further than the main mouthpiece of Xi's Communist party.

French President Emmanuel Macron's remarks urging Europe to reduce its reliance on the US and to be cautious about being dragged into a conflict between Beijing and Washington over Taiwan question are being seen by observers as jamming the brakes on Europe that is being coerced into becoming deeply involved in the Taiwan question, and signals a dead end for the US strategy of luring Europe to contain China.

The other, stronger leader

Macron was not the only European leader to meet with Xi.

Ursula von der Leyen, EU president, struck a very different tone after meeting with the Xi regime. She publicly addressed Chinese trade abuses, the war in Ukraine, and China's appalling human rights record.

I conveyed that European Union businesses in China are concerned by unfair practices in some sectors – unfair practices that impede their access to the Chinese market. For example, if you take the EU agri-food products, they face significant hurdles.

We also count on China not to provide any military equipment, directly or indirectly, to Russia. Because we all know, arming the aggressor would be against international law. And it would significantly harm our relationship.

We also addressed human rights. I expressed our deep concerns about the deterioration of the human rights situation in China. The situation in Xinjiang is particularly concerning.

Sad to see the French leader wobble, but nice to see the EU stand firm, speak directly, and hold the democratic line.