Emmanuel Macron is one of the few politicians on the continent who has “creative ideas” about Europe, says Andreas Ernst in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung. He speaks about the EU becoming a “third superpower” and talks up “strategic autonomy” from the US. But the French president “failed as a European” during last week’s visit to Beijing. The scandal wasn’t his “America bashing”, or his recurring assertion that Europe isn’t a “vassal” of the US – the EU cannot afford to “decouple” from Beijing in the way Washington would like, even if it wanted to.
No, Macron’s real failure was “due to the old French shortcoming”: an ignorance of eastern Europe. For these countries – which actually were “vassals” of the Soviet empire – Taiwan isn’t just an inconsequential island thousands of miles away, as he seems to believe. It’s a reminder of the dangers of expansionist powers, which they feel acutely due to the looming threat of Russian aggression. Macron has already betrayed these countries once, by trying to act as a “dictator whisperer” with Vladimir Putin in the run-up to the invasion of Ukraine. Now – thanks to his schmoozing with Xi – any chance of a unified European response to China’s hostility towards Taiwan has been “blown out of the water”.
✈️😔 European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen joined Macron on his trip, but didn’t receive quite the same “warm embrace”, says Politico. The French leader was personally welcomed by China’s foreign minister; honoured with military parades, firing cannons and a red carpet in Tiananmen Square; and fêted at a state banquet. Von der Leyen was picked up at the airport’s regular passenger exit by the ecology minister.