Feb 4, 2021 - World

How Emmanuel Macron sees the China challenge

Macron and Xi in 2019. Photo: Jason Lee - Pool/Getty Images

French President Emmanuel Macron reiterated his call for European "strategic autonomy" at an Atlantic Council forum on Thursday, saying, “Our duty, definitely, is not to put ourselves in a situation to depend on a U.S. decision.”

Why it matters: It will disappoint some in Washington to hear Macron apply that framework to competition between the U.S. and China.

  • If Europe and its partners pursue a strategy of "join all together against China," Macron said, that will only cause China to "increase its regional strategy" and reduce its cooperation on global issues.
  • But Europe also can't treat China fully as a partner, on par with the U.S., because China is a systemic rival when it comes to values and geopolitics in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Europe, then, must team up with the U.S. on certain issues, work with China where possible and "try to be the useful player to push China not to diverge anymore."

Macron set out four priorities when it comes to China:

  1. Working with the permanent members of the UN Security Council to seek convergence on security issues.
  2. Cooperating with China on climate change.
  3. Strengthening protections for intellectual property and equitable trade.
  4. Challenging China on human rights.

More takeaways:

  • On Russia, Macron reiterated his position that regular dialogue with Russia is important for Europe's security, even as some colleagues seek to isolate Vladimir Putin.
  • On Iran, Macron said he welcomed Biden's desire for negotiations with Iran and said, "I will be here ... to try to be an honest broker and a committed broker in this dialogue." He added that Israel and Saudi Arabia should be brought in, and issues like ballistic missiles should be on the table.

Worth noting: Macron blasted social media networks for their decisions to “suddenly cut the mic” as soon as they were sure Donald Trump was leaving power.

Go deeper: Macron blasts social media platforms for banning Trump

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