‘We need to make sure Taiwan is able to defend itself,’ ex-UK leader will warn.
April 11, 2023
LONDON — Former U.K. Prime Minister Liz Truss will take a not-so-subtle swipe at Emmanuel Macron over his attempt to build bridges with Beijing.
In a Wednesday morning speech to the Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington, D.C. Truss will argue that too many in the West have “appeased and accommodated”
authoritarian regimes in China and Russia.
And she will say it is a “sign of weakness” for Western leaders to visit China and ask premier Xi Jinping for his support in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — just days after Macron’s own high-profile trip there.
While Truss — who left office after just six weeks as crisis-hit U.K. prime minister — will not mention Macron by name, her comments follow an interview with POLITICO in which the French president said Europe should resist pressure to become “America’s followers.”
Macron 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.”
Macron has already been criticized for those comments by the IPAC group of China-skeptic lawmakers, which said Monday his remarks were “ill-judged.”
And Truss — who had a frosty relationship with Macron during her brief stint in office last year — will use her speech to urge a more aggressive stance toward both China and Russia.
“We’ve seen Vladimir Putin launching an unprovoked attack on a free and democratic neighbor, we see the Chinese building up their armaments and their arsenal and menacing the free and democratic Taiwan,” Truss will say according to pre-released remarks. “Too many in the West have appeased and accommodated these regimes.”
She will add: “Western leaders visiting President Xi to ask for his support in ending the war is a mistake — and it is a sign of weakness. Instead our energies should go into taking more measures to support Taiwan. We need to make sure Taiwan is able to defend itself.”
Relations between Macron and Truss’ successor Rishi Sunak have been notably warmer. The pair hailed a “new chapter” in U.K.-France ties in March, after concluding a deal on cross-Channel migration.