Europe ‘acted rapidly in financial crisis’ says Macron
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.
“This one, for me, is counterproductive.”
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?”
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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.
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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.”
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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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