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After Macron statements, Europe is tough on Taiwan


BEIJING (Reuters) -European foreign policy officials on Friday urged China not to use force over Taiwan, taking a tough stance against Beijing’s threats over the democratically governed island, after comments by French President Emmanuel Macron were perceived as weak.

China in recent days has held intense military drills around Taiwan, which it claims as its own, and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, addressing the issue at a press conference in Beijing alongside her Chinese counterpart Qin Gang, said any attempt by China to control Taiwan would be unacceptable and would have serious repercussions for Europe.

EU foreign policy chief Joseph Borrell echoed her remarks in a statement prepared for a speech due to be delivered in Beijing at the Center for China and Globalization think tank on Friday that had to be cancelled after he caught COVID-19.

“A military escalation in the Taiwan Strait, through which … 50% of world trade goes every day, would be a horror scenario for the entire world,” said Baerbock, adding it would have “inevitable repercussions” for European interests.

In interviews published after his trip to China last week, which was meant to showcase European unity on China policy, Macron cautioned against being drawn into a crisis over Taiwan driven by an “American rhythm and a Chinese overreaction”.

While many of the remarks were not new, the timing of their publication, and their bluntness, annoyed many Western officials.

“The European Union’s position (on Taiwan) is consistent and clear,” Borrell said in his remarks. “Any attempt to change the status quo by force would be unacceptable.”

UKRAINE ISSUE

Borrell also said Europe’s future relationship with China depended on it trying to use its influence to find a political solution to the Ukraine crisis.

“It will be extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the European Union to maintain a relationship of trust with China, which I would like to see, if China does not contribute to the search for a political solution based on Russia’s withdrawal from the Ukrainian territory,” Borrell said.

“Neutrality in the face of the violation of international law is not credible,” Borrell said, adding an appeal for Chinese President Xi Jinping to speak to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and for China to provide more humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

Xi has met Russian President Vladimir Putin twice but not spoken with Zelenskiy since Russia invaded Ukraine in what Moscow calls a “special military operation” in February 2022.

China stated its opposition to attacks on civilians and on nuclear facilities in a position paper on Ukraine published in February, but it has refrained from openly criticising Russia.

“President Xi’s visit to Moscow has demonstrated that no other country has a bigger influence on Russia than China,” said Baerbock.

“It is good that China has signalled to get engaged in finding a solution. But I have to say clearly that I wonder why China so far has not asked the aggressor Russia to stop the war. We all know President Putin has the opportunity to do so any time he wants to.”

Poland’s prime minister warned earlier this week that Ukraine’s defeat may embolden China to invade Taiwan.

Baerbock and Borrell also spoke about the risks of being too dependent economically on China, in line with comments made by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in a speech last month on the eve of her China visit.

“We just paid a high price for our energy dependency on Russia, and it is well-known that one should not make the same mistake twice,” said Baerbock, adding that economic security is core to Germany’s strategy for China.

Borrell said that the EU needs to diversify its value chains to reduce its dependency on China for raw materials.

He also said that the increasing trade imbalances between the EU and China are “unsustainable” and called on China to remove market access barriers.

Source: yahoo

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