According to French President Emmanuel Macron, Europe should not get involved in a conflict between the US and China. So Europe is not interested in expediting the Taiwan issue. A statement came in for a lot of criticism, but especially with Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who gave the impression that he agreed.
According to VVD MP Ruben Bregelmans, Macron’s statement could be seen as a ‘mistake’. ‘I don’t think it’s right in terms of content because Taiwan is so important to world trade and the Netherlands and the chips industry. In addition, it is democracy that contrasts with China’s autocracy, so it also has a broader meaning.
Brekelmans argues that calling the Taiwan issue “not our problem” is “wrong”, while adding that Macron’s timing was tactical. “Now we’re trying to get global support for Ukraine, and we’re trying to convince the world that Ukraine is not just a European problem, but a global problem. So we can’t simultaneously say that Taiwan is not our problem.’
But, Braekelmans insists, Macron’s words are not all doom and gloom. On the contrary. For example, Macron said France was committed to free shipping in the region, something he had previously been unclear about. ‘That includes the waters around Taiwan,’ says Braekelmans.
That’s important because one of the toughest sanctions China could introduce would be to close off Taiwan at sea. Rutte and Macron now make it clear that it will go too far. ‘Macron indicated that both France and the Netherlands share that vision with the US,’ Braekelmans continues. “So in an earlier interview he emphasized distance with the United States, and yesterday he again emphasized a shared vision of free shipping and sovereignty.’
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Braegelmans acknowledges that Macron clearly strikes a different tone with some politicians from the United States. I thought that was a nice touch.
According to Brekelmans, it’s important that this support is constantly expressed, not necessarily to talk about potential recognition. “Taiwan didn’t hear it either,” he says. They did not demand independent status or whether it could be recognized by the West. What they want is a certain amount of freedom and positions in international organizations.
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Therefore, he says, Taiwan does not expect to suddenly launch all kinds of military operations in Europe, but they can continue to rely on Europe for support. ‘We as Europe continue to contribute to China’s deterrence,’ he concludes. For example, using our economic power. I think we should show Western solidarity in that.
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