Emmanuel Macron and Ursula von der Leyen delivered Chinese leader Xi Jinping a unified message last week, the European Commission argued Tuesday — avoiding comment on the divisions that emerged after.
“The messaging which came out of that trilateral meeting was very consistent,” said Eric Mamer, a Commission spokesperson, during a briefing with journalists, days after Macron, the French leader, met in Beijing with Commission chief von der Leyen and Xi.
The French president, however, caused a commotion shortly after the gathering when he suggested in an interview with POLITICO and others that Europe should not get dragged into a U.S.-China confrontation over Taiwan, the self-ruled island Beijing claims as its own.
The remarks prompted hand-wringing from Europeans who want a more confrontational approach to Beijing and tighter relations with Washington — and were frustrated that Macron was freelancing on Europe’s behalf.
Macron and von der Leyen were traveling together in China to present a united European front. Mamer said the two “were trying to pass on to President Xi … a message about the significant policy dimensions of our relation with China — and that came through.”
Yet China spent the trip trying to divide the leaders, catering more to Macron than to von der Leyen.
During his three-day state stay, Macron got lavish greetings and around six hours with Xi, while von der Leyen got only a couple of meetings with the Chinese leader and little ceremonial pomp.
Mamer said the differences were because von der Leyen’s trip was not a state visit.
The biggest controversy came on the back end of the trip when Macron warned in his interview that Europe must not get “caught up in crises that are not ours, which prevents it from building its strategic autonomy.”
The Commission declined to comment on Macron’s remarks, which led to grumbling in many European capitals and sparked criticism from China-skeptic lawmakers.
Mamer reiterated that the EU, like the U.S., follows the “One China” policy, which recognizes Beijing as the sole legal government of China but also allows for informal relations with Taiwan.
He also called for “peace and stability in the straits of Taiwan’’ and condemned any attempts to “unilaterally change to the status quo in particular through the use of force.”
Source : POLITICO