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After China’s comments, Macron heads to Netherlands for official visit

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French President Emmanuel Macron is on a two-day state visit to the Netherlands where he is expected to deliver a keynote address on the future of Europe.

The speech, which will be delivered in a theater in The Hague, follows Macron’s controversial remarks on Taiwan during his recent visit to China.

“The question we need to answer, as Europeans, is the following: Is it in our interest to accelerate (a crisis) in Taiwan? No,” Macron was quoted as saying in an interview published Sunday in French newspaper Les Echos. Politico Europe.

“The worst thing is to think that we Europeans should become followers on this subject and take our cues from the US agenda and Chinese overreaction.”

The remarks raised questions about whether Macron’s views are in line with the EU’s position and whether the 27-nation bloc can become the “third great power” that Macron says he hopes to build up in “a few years”.

The interview took place on Friday, just before China launched large-scale combat exercises around Taiwan simulating a lockdown of the island in retaliation for the Taiwanese president’s trip to the United States last week.

Macron stressed the concept of “strategic autonomy” for Europe that he had promoted for years. He warned of what he called a “trap” that would lead the bloc to “fall into crises that are not ours.”

China and Taiwan split in 1949 after a civil war. The government in Beijing says the island is obligated to return to the mainland by force if necessary.

Macron’s trip to Amsterdam and The Hague is the first state visit by a French leader since Jacques Chirac 23 years ago and underscores the close ties between the Netherlands, France and the two leaders.

After arriving in Amsterdam, Macron and Dutch King Willem-Alexander inspected a guard of honor in the square outside the capital’s royal palace as a military band played and French and Dutch flags fluttered in the cool breeze.

After a guard of honor and before Macron formally laid a wreath at the national monument near the palace in the historic heart of the city, a small group of protesters against Macron’s pension reforms briefly held up a banner in French that read: “We won’t be struck until retirement.”

Macron later traveled to The Hague to meet with leaders of both houses of the Dutch Parliament before delivering his speech.

In the evening, Macron and his wife Brigitte returned to Amsterdam for a banquet hosted by Willem-Alexander.

Macron’s itinerary for Wednesday includes a visit to a science park in Amsterdam, talks with Prime Minister Mark Rutte, and a huge exhibition of paintings by Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer at the Rijksmuseum.

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