Macron’s appeasement to China’s new world order has EU divided; not everyone’s ready to bend their knee

Xi Jinping and Emmanuel Macron, left, take tea at the Guandong province governor's residence in Guangzhou, China on Friday 7 April. Photograph: Thibault Camus/SIPA/Shutterstock

Revelations 6:3-4 “when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

Important Takeaways:

  • When Macron met Xi: Welcome to the New World disorder
  • China’s leader is gathering autocratic regimes to his banner, Europe and the US are divided over how to respond, and the French president just lobbed a grenade onto the field of international diplomacy
  • In 2019, he famously declared that Nato was experiencing “brain death”.
  • In 2021-22, he took it upon himself to mediate, ostensibly on Europe’s behalf, with Vladimir Putin over Ukraine. Even after Putin ignored him and invaded, Macron insisted Moscow should be offered “security guarantees” and that Russia not be “humiliated”.
  • At home, Macron has caused uproar in recent months by pushing through controversial pension reforms opposed by two-thirds of the population. The row has contributed to a plunging personal approval rating, down to 30% this month. Facing a confidence vote in March, his government survived by bypassing parliament. The reforms are under legal challenge, while violent nationwide protests are continuing. Yet insouciant Macron seems almost oblivious at times.
  • The latest explosion was ignited by an interview Macron gave after a visit last weekend to Beijing…On China policy, European countries were too subservient to the US and should not be Washington’s “followers”… Macron also implied that defending democratic Taiwan from a Ukraine-type Chinese invasion was not Europe’s business.
  • China, on the other hand, just loves Macron’s ideas about rescuing Europe from America’s smothering embrace. His comments were wildly applauded in state-controlled media
  • If a European consensus view on China actually exists, it was possibly best expressed by Von der Leyen in a speech last month. China, she said, had become “more repressive at home and more assertive abroad,” and Europe must be bolder in response.
  • EU countries should use economic measures such as screening of foreign subsidies and restrictions on sensitive technology transfers to rebalance relations with Beijing
  • “China is a fascinating and complex mix of history, progress and challenges. And it will define this century,” she said. But her message to Beijing was unapologetic and – Macron please note – unbending. The tried-and-tested democratic international order, based on shared principles and values, could and would prevail.

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