Photo credit: Présidence de la République du Bénin

Macron: Europe must avoid getting dragged into conflict with China

European nations are at risk of becoming “vassals” to the United States if they don’t reduce their dependency on the US dollar as a currency, French President Emmanuel Macron has claimed.

In an interview with Politico last weekend, Macron outlined his fears of Europe being dragged into a potential conflict between America and China over rising tensions in Taiwan.

The president reportedly emphasised his belief in “strategic autonomy” for Europe, which he said could make the bloc a “third superpower” – the other two presumably being China and the US. He added that Europe faced a “great risk” if it “gets caught up in crises that are not ours, which prevents it from building its strategic autonomy.”

“The paradox would be that, overcome with panic, we believe we are just America’s followers,” Macron reportedly said.

“The question Europeans need to answer…is it in our interest to accelerate [a crisis] on Taiwan? No. The worse thing would be to think that we Europeans must become followers on this topic and take our cue from the U.S. agenda and a Chinese overreaction.”

The remarks came amid growing geopolitical tensions around the Pacific island of Taiwan, with China launching significant “Taiwan encirclement” military exercises near to Taiwanese territory, practising naval blockades of the region. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen dubbed the move “irresponsible.”

The exercises were reportedly sparked in response to President Tsai’s visit to Central America recently, including to California, where she met with American lawmakers.

This week, following these exercises, the US and the Philippines began drills of their own in response – the largest ever of their kind in the area.

Historically, Taiwan claims independence from China, while China insists that the island is part of its own territory. The US has traditionally backed Taiwan, promising to arm and defend the island were it to ever be invaded.

Speaking on the situation, Macron said that Europe getting involved in the Taiwan situation would only “increase tensions.”

“Europeans cannot resolve the crisis in Ukraine,” he said.

“How can we credibly say on Taiwan, ‘watch out, if you do something wrong we will be there’? If you really want to increase tensions that’s the way to do it.”

He also said that Europe should reduce its dependence on the US dollar, warning that the continent may be at risk of becoming “vassals” to America.

“If the tensions between the two superpowers heat up…we won’t have the time nor the resources to finance our strategic autonomy and we will become vassals,” he said.

The comments follow a widespread ongoing flight from the US dollar as a reserve currency in the midst of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war

Last February, at the outset of the war, the US took the drastic move of freezing Russia’s central bank assets, including its holdings of US dollars – a move which American officials called “unprecedented” at the time. This sanction was meant to weaken Russia’s economy so that Moscow would struggle to fund the war in Ukraine, and was hoped to cause rapid inflation within Russia.

In response to this weaponisation of currency, however, many countries have since began to move away from reliance on the US dollar, instead signing agreements to buy certain goods like energy in other currencies such as the Chinese yuan.

These countries include, but are not limited to, India, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Argentina, China, Russia, France, and more.

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