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Macron is wrong to consider China and Russia as separate concerns

Macron is wrong to consider China and Russia as separate concerns


French President Emmanuel Macron’s recent visit to China and his subsequent comment that Europe should not be dragged into a confrontation over Taiwan made it clear that his vision of strategic autonomy involves focusing on security in Europe while seeking financial prosperity via Beijing.

This betrays a lingering fantasy that security and the economy can be dealt with separately. Macron’s attitude will reinforce the opinion spreading in the United States that American interests are best served by focusing less on Europe and more on the Indo-Pacific region.

This episode served as a nasty reminder that despite all the rhetoric about democracies standing together against powerful authoritarians wherever they are in the world, some Western leaders remain willing to retreat to narrower, more short-term definitions. of their national interests.

It’s totally bad instinct. What is needed to limit the growing collaboration between Moscow and Beijing is a form of grand strategic cooperation in which Europe, the United States and others work together from the Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific.

The risk for Macron, given the precarious state of strategic preparedness of many traditional European powers, is that the United States will hold him to account. The implication that tensions outside of Europe are not to Europe’s aid will fuel complaints already simmering in the United States that it is doing more than its fair share to confront the Russian threat on the doorstep. NATO and that its interests are perhaps best served by focusing on the Indo-Pacific region.

If recriminations over Ukraine’s shared responsibility were to lead to diminished global support, it could force Kyiv to negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin from a position of weakness, likely resulting in the ceding of territory.

It would reward his blatant aggression and deal a devastating blow not only to Ukraine, but also to Western unity, the perceived strength of liberal ideas, and the Western deterrence strategies that offer the best hope of defusing war. and prevent future conflicts.

That’s what Putin wants, of course. This is also what Beijing wants and thinks will happen. This is partly why Chinese leader Xi Jinping has formed his no-holds-barred partnership with Putin and why Beijing is helping Russia.

Beijing’s confidence stems from Xi’s view that democracies are structurally weak and lack the stamina to survive authoritarian regimes, which are more focused on long-term goals and willing to see their people suffer. for a political cause.

It is doubtful that Xi understands democratic societies as well as he thinks, but principles such as support for Ukraine cannot be taken for granted.

Ukrainian skeptics in the United States are divided between American pioneers, who ignore history and reality to argue that national needs can be solved through isolation, and security advocates who see Beijing as the challenge to most important long term and should therefore be the focus of attention. limited American resources.

The increased US focus on Beijing may appeal to many in the Indo-Pacific region. But reduced US support for Ukraine – whatever the motive – would embolden Beijing and confirm Xi’s theory that the democratic world is in decline. This would harm the West’s ability to deter aggression on a global scale and increase the risk of future conflict.

Fortunately, there is an alternative: great collective strategic thinking through better use of partnerships. It’s the same logic that produced AUKUS and the revitalization of the Quad. The United States should focus on Beijing but cannot do so by leaving Ukraine to the predators of Moscow.

Europe, especially Germany and France, must therefore increase in power. The fact is that the EU can collectively take on Russia in a way that no grouping in the Indo-Pacific region can do to counter the power of Beijing.

All countries want to be able to make independent decisions to advance their interests. But there is a distinction to be made between sovereignty and autonomy. Sovereignty does not always mean making decisions alone, but can involve leveraging partnerships with others who share core values ​​and interests and using the space created to make decisions based on long-term priorities. term.

NATO as a whole understands this, as do senior officials in the European Parliament and European Commission, including Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen and lawmaker Reinhard Butikofer.

Many smaller EU countries also benefit, as evidenced by Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania which are among the largest bilateral aid providers to Ukraine as a share of national gross domestic product. The German Greens, which are part of the ruling coalition in the country, have also understood this, in particular Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, among the most fervent appreciaters of the link between individual human rights and security.

Macron’s trip to Beijing is unlikely to change that picture. But the implication that Macron and others do not view stability and security in the Indo-Pacific as a concern will impact deterrence in the region and amplify concerns in the United States about the engagement of major corporations. European powers.

Chinese state media is already encouraging other countries to follow Macron, with the China Daily saying he has shown the rest of the world… that it is possible to reject bloc confrontation and adhere to a policy independent.

The United States, NATO and the EU should respond with a combined show of resilience by supporting Ukraine against Russia – and delivering a clear message that this effort would be matched in the Indo-Pacific.

Global authoritarianism, as we see through the behavior of Beijing and Moscow, is being pushed aggressively as an alternative to democracy with the aim of upsetting the world order and prioritizing might over right.

To confront and deter this push, liberal democracies must move beyond discussions of security nexus in the Pacific and Atlantic regions and act accordingly. Stability, security and prosperity require working together and leveraging our strengths. By all means, this cooperation should recognize unique regional needs, leadership and contributions, but should be part of a collective strategy.

This means Europe is stepping up dramatically to confront the autocrat at its eastern doorstep, with continued support from the United States and Indo-Pacific partners. It also means that Europe recognizes that authoritarianism on its doorstep is inseparable from authoritarianism in the Indo-Pacific.

The growing pressure and confidence of authoritarian regimes must be checked. It is disappointing that even as we see Russian atrocities in Ukraine and Beijing’s targeted aggression and coercion, some political leaders think they can divide Moscow and Beijing.

They cannot be divided. They are two parts of the same problem.

(This article was published by Nikkei Asia)




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