Polish PM blasts ‘short-sighted’ European opening to China after Macron visit

WARSAW (AFP): Poland’s prime minister on Thursday accused Europeans of making a potentially historic mistake by seeking greater ties with China, in a clear reference to French President Emmanuel Macron, as he warned of consequences for Ukraine.

“Short-sightedly they look to China to be able to sell more EU products there at huge geopolitical costs, making us more dependent on China and not less,” Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on a visit to Washington.

“Some European countries are trying to make with China the same mistake which was made with Russia — this dramatic mistake,” he said at the Atlantic Council think tank.

Paraphrasing Macron’s remarks without naming him, Morawiecki said, “You cannot protect Ukraine today and tomorrow by saying Taiwan is not your business.”

“I think that, God forbid, if Ukraine falls, if Ukraine gets conquered, the next day China may attack — can attack — Taiwan,” he said.

Alluding to Macron’s comments alongside President Xi Jinping about a more multipolar role, Morawiecki scoffed.

“European autonomy sounds fancy, doesn’t it? But it means shifting the center of European gravity towards China and severing the ties with the US,” he said.

“I do not quite understand the concept of strategic autonomy if it means de facto shooting into our own knee.”

Macron visited China last week with a major French business delegation and European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen.

Macron urged Xi not to send weapons to Russia but also said that France would not be a mere “follower” of either Washington or Beijing when it comes to growing tensions over Taiwan.

The French leader said bluntly that Europeans could not credibly promise to support Taiwan as they had not solved the Ukraine crisis.

China launched military exercises near Taiwan, a self-ruling democracy it claims, shortly after Macron left, with Beijing angry over Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s meeting in California with US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Poland, where memories remain raw both of Soviet domination and Nazi Germany, has taken a leading role in supporting neighboring Ukraine since Russia invaded in February 2022, including by sending MiG-29 fighter jets.

Morawiecki, in a barely concealed allusion to both Germany and France, accused Western European powers of providing weaker support for Ukraine than the United States, Britain and the bulk of Eastern and Central Europe with the exception of Hungary.

Western European nations have grown accustomed to a model based on cheap energy from Russia, high-margin trade with China, low-cost labor from Eastern Europe and “security for free from the United States,” Morawiecki said.

“Now their modus vivendi collapsed in ruins so what do they do? They want a quick ceasefire, armistice, in Ukraine, almost at any price,” he said.

Some politicians in Western Europe are thinking, “‘Ukraine, why are you fighting so bravely?'” he said.

Germany and France have both provided military support to Ukraine including by sending armored vehicles — a decision that Berlin made after prolonged debate.