TAIPEI (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron’s comments on Taiwan are puzzling, a senior Taiwanese politician said, wondering if France’s founding ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity were now outdated.
Macron, in remarks in an interview during a trip to China that was supposed to show European unity on China policy, warned against being drawn into a crisis over Taiwan driven by “the American rhythm and the Chinese overreaction.”
He also called on the European Union to reduce its dependence on the United States and to become a “third pole” in global affairs alongside Washington and Beijing.
Taiwanese Parliament Speaker Yu Si-kun, writing on Facebook late Tuesday above a screenshot of a report on Macron’s comments on Taiwan, questioned France’s commitment to freedom.
Referring to the official French motto “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity,” he wrote: “Is ‘Liberty, Equality, Fraternity’ obsolete?
“Is it okay to ignore this once it becomes part of the constitution? Or can advanced democracies ignore the life and death of people in other countries?” Added you, one of the founders of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwan. “The actions of President Macron, a leading international democracy, leave me bewildered.”
China has been conducting military exercises around Taiwan since Saturday after Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen returned from a trip to the United States, where she met with Speaker of the US House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy.
France, like most countries, does not have formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan, which China claims, but maintains a de facto embassy in Taipei and has joined other US allies in stressing the need for peace in the Taiwan Strait.
On Tuesday, Taiwan’s foreign ministry sought to downplay Macron’s remarks, although it said it had “noted” what he said.
“The State Department expresses its thanks to France for expressing its concern about peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait many times and in many different international forums,” including, for example, at the recent Franco-British leaders’ summit, State Department spokesman Jeff Liu told reporters. This is a continuation of France’s firm stance and stance.”
(Reporting by Ben Blanchard). Editing by Jerry Doyle
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