French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday defended controversial comments he made during his trip to China last week regarding Europe’s relationship with the U.S. as it relates to escalating tensions with Beijing over Taiwan.
In a press conference from the Netherlands, Macron told reporters that “being an ally does not mean being a vassal,” adding that it “doesn’t mean that we don’t have the right to think for ourselves.”
“France is for the status quo in Taiwan” and a “peaceful resolution to the situation,” he said, according to DW, following pushback he has received over his comments suggesting that Europeans must not be “followers” of the U.S.
On Monday Macron raised international eyebrows after he was quoted from a Friday interview as having said, “The question we need to answer, as Europeans, is the following: Is it in our interest to accelerate [a crisis] on Taiwan? No.”
“The worst 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,” he added.
The Biden administration has remained quiet in response to the French president’s comments during his trip to China – a nation listed as the U.S.’s top adversary and chief threat across the spectrum.
But Republicans on and off the Hill have outwardly condemned the comments, including GOP 2024 presidential candidate Donald Trump, who said, “Macron, who’s a friend of mine, is over with China, kissing his a–,” in reference to Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Macron responded to the former president’s comments and condemned them as escalatory.
“France does not support provocations, does not engage in fantasy politics and considers the status quo, respect and clarity are the best allies of European strategic autonomy,” Macron said, according to DW.
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz also took to Twitter and blamed President Biden for the controversial comments in a tweet Wednesday, calling them “stunning.”
“Even the left-wing leaders of Europe – whom Biden has assiduously courted (and obsequiously a—kissed) – are openly screwing the U.S.,” he said. “Serious Q: could Biden possibly have screwed up foreign policy more?”
Macron has repeatedly found himself in the hot seat in recent weeks, not only when it comes to geopolitics, but with issues closer to home.
France has seen nationwide protests for weeks, which at times have turned violent, over a controversial change to the nation’s pension program that Macron and his government pushed through.
Macron has defended changing the age of retirement from 62 to 64, claiming it is necessary to save the social security program from going bust.