French president Macron: EU shouldn’t gang up on China with US

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French president Macron: EU shouldn’t gang up on China with US
French president warns against creating ‘highest possible’ conflict.
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BY RYM MOMTAZ
February 4, 2021 8:59 pm


PARIS — The EU shouldn’t gang up on China with the U.S. even if it stands closer to Washington by virtue of shared values, according to French President Emmanuel Macron.

“A situation to join all together against China, this is a scenario of the highest possible conflictuality. This one, for me, is counterproductive,” Macron said, speaking in English, during a discussion broadcast by Washington-based think tank the Atlantic Council on Thursday.

This kind of common front against China — as other European leaders have advocated given the new Biden administration's revived openness to traditional alliances — risks pushing Beijing to lower its cooperation on issues like combatting climate change, and exacerbating its aggressive behavior in Asia, including in the South China Sea, according to the French president.

Macron also said “the coming semesters will be very critical for Chinese leaders and China,” given the Biden administration’s reengagement in multilateral frameworks like the World Health Organization.

“As the U.S. is reengaging itself, what will be the behavior of China?” Macron asked.

He pitched, once again, holding a summit of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — China, France, the U.S., U.K. and Russia. He had tried to hold such a summit in 2020 but it had fallen prey to Sino-American tensions and never materialized.

Macron was answering questions from a handful of U.S. think-tankers, professors and former officials via video link in a 90-minute session recorded at the Elysée on Wednesday afternoon.

The French president was the first European leader to make it a point to engage with China as a European bloc by including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and then-EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker during a bilateral visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping to France in March 2019.

Macron and European partners didn’t share the Trump administration’s outwardly aggressive stance on China, instead theorizing that it was at once a “partner, competitor and systemic rival.”

Macron said in the Atlantic Council discussion that China was a partner when it comes to climate change. When the Trump administration pulled out of the Paris climate agreement, China remained in it. The French president said Beijing was a competitor on trade and industrial issues and a systemic rival through its behavior in the “Indo-Pacific region and on values, human rights.”

One of the first executive orders that U.S. President Joe Biden signed after being inaugurated returned the U.S. to the Paris climate pact.

That offers up a new opportunity for engagement, Macron said.

“I think we have to engage China in a bold and efficient climate agenda. And I think the reengagement of the U.S. is a good occasion, as well, to have a proactive and — a discussion on that,” he said.

Macron said there was a need for “a global initiative on trade, industry, and intellectual property” through the World Trade Organization and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, a group of mostly rich countries including France, and admitted that the investment agreement the EU and China signed in December 2020 “failed to deal with the IP issue. Let’s be lucid.”

On technology issues, Macron reiterated his long-held position not to “depend on a 100 percent Chinese solution.” He decided not to allow the deployment and use of Chinese 5G technology in strategic sectors in France. He also said: “I don’t want to depend on 100 percent U.S. decision. Otherwise, I will be put in a situation not to decide for the European continent itself.”


And Macron said there was a need to put pressure on China when it comes to human rights — an issue the Biden administration has been publicly forceful on — while France and other European countries have preferred a more discreet approach to China.

He defended the EU-China investment deal on this issue, amid criticism that the deal is weak on labor rights provisions at a time of mounting evidence of abuses at labor camps in Xinjiang against the Uighur minority.

“For the very first time, China accepted to engage on [International Labour Organization] regulation and to commit precisely on labor issues, which are part of our human rights package,” Macron said.

 

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Sorry Joe! Major blow for Biden as Macron shatters US alliance dream - China divide erupts
EMMANUEL Macron has warned new US President Joe Biden he cannot rely on the support of the European Union when it comes to China in an indication that the bloc is ready to cosy up to Beijing.
By CIARAN MCGRATH
PUBLISHED: 08:48, Fri, Feb 5, 2021 |
Emmanuel-Macron-Xi-Jinping-2889457.jpg

Mr Biden, who officially took office on January 20, is keen to revive traditional alliances including those with European countries, with the European Commission - led by President Ursula von der Leyen - last year publishing a paper entitled A new EU-US agenda for global change. However, France’s President suggested the bloc should resist the temptation to take sides.

Mr Macron claimed such an approach would merely antagonise China, led by President Xi Jinping, prompting in a reduction on cooperation on issues such as climate change, as well fuelling more aggressive behaviour in the disputed South China Sea.

Mr Macron added: “As the US is reengaging itself, what will be the behaviour of China?”


Characterising China as a “partner, competitor and systemic rival”, he stressed: “I think we have to engage China in a bold and efficient climate agenda.

“And I think the reengagement of the US is a good occasion, as well, to have a proactive and - a discussion on that.”

There was also a need for what Mr Macron called for “a global initiative on trade, industry, and intellectual property” through the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.


On the subject of the latter, the EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment signed by the EU and China in December “failed to deal with the IP issue”, Mr Macron admitted, adding: “Let’s be lucid.”

In relation to the use of Chinese 5G technology, which Mr Macron has opted not to deploy in strategic sectors in France, he said: “I don’t want to depend on 100 percent US decision.

“Otherwise, I will be put in a situation not to decide for the European continent itself.”


Mr Macron also defended the investment deal in terms of human rights, despite mounting evidence of abuses at labour camps in the Xinjiang region.

He explained: “For the very first time, China accepted to engage on International Labour Organisation regulation and to commit precisely on labour issues, which are part of our human rights package.”

Mr Macron also floated the idea of a summit of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council - China, France, the US, UK and Russia - have previously broached the subject last year.


In 2019, he became the first European leader to push a bloc-wide approach to engaging with China when he included Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and Mrs von der Leyen’s predecessor, Jean-Claude Juncker during Xi’s a bilateral visit to France in March 2019.

Also last year, in the wake of Mr Biden’s defeat of Donald Trump in November 3’s Presidential election, Mr Macron stressed his belief that Europe’s interests did not directly align with those of the US.

He said of Washington: “It is not tenable that our international policies should be dependent on it or to be trailing behind it.


“The changeover of the administration in America is an opportunity to pursue in a truly peaceful and calm manner what allies need to understand among themselves – which is that we need to continue to build our independence for ourselves, as the US does for itself and as China does for itself.

“It is vital that our Europe finds the ways and the means to decide for itself to rely on itself, not to depend on others in every area, technological, health, geopolitics, and to be able to cooperate with whomever it chooses.

“Our values are not quite the same. We have an attachment to social democracy, to more equality. Our reactions are not quite the same”.

 
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