Macron’s comments have baffled a senior Taiwanese official.

TAIPEI, April 12 (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron’s comments on Taiwan are puzzling, as France’s founding ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity are no longer fashionable, a senior Taiwanese politician said.

Macron, in an interview on a trip to China to demonstrate European solidarity on China policy, warned against being drawn into a crisis over Taiwan driven by “American rhetoric and Chinese overreaction”.

He called for the EU to reduce its dependence on the US and become a “third pole” in world affairs alongside Washington and Beijing.

Taiwanese parliament speaker Yu Chi-kun wrote on Facebook late Tuesday above a screengrab of a statement about Macron’s comments on Taiwan, questioning the French commitment to independence.

“Is ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité’ uncivilized?,” he wrote, referring to the official French motto, “Liberté, égalité, fraternité.”

“Is it right to just ignore it as part of the constitution? Or can advanced democracies ignore the lives and deaths of people in other countries?” He included you, one of the founders of Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party. “I am perplexed by the actions of President Macron, a leading international democracy.”

China has been holding military exercises around Taiwan since Saturday, after Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen returned from a trip to the United States where she met with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

France, like most countries, does not have formal diplomatic relations with Chinese-claimed Taiwan, but maintains a de facto embassy in Taipei and has joined other US allies in underscoring the need for peace in the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan’s foreign ministry on Tuesday tried to play down Macron’s comments, though they said he was “specific”.

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“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs thanks France for expressing its concern for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait many times and in various international fora”, for example at the recent French-British leaders’ summit, spokesman Jeff Liu told reporters. “This is a continuation of France’s consistent stance and position.”

Ben Blanchard reports. Editing by Gerry Doyle

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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