US and France should not ‘make an issue of China,’ Beijing says

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President Joe Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron talk after a toast during a State Dinner on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik) Andrew Harnik/AP

US and France should not ‘make an issue of China,’ Beijing says

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China should not be made into “an issue” by either the United States or France, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said in response to a statement from the presidents of the two countries.

French President Emmanuel Macron visited President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday, where the two shared a state dinner and discussed numerous topics. In a joint statement, they vowed that the U.S. and France would “coordinate on the concerns regarding China’s challenge to the rules-based international order,” a message that was not warmly received by the Asian nation, according to South China Morning Post.

“China is an opportunity for the world,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said in response to the statement. “Neither the United States nor France should make an issue of China.”

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The declaration from Biden and Macron was not surprising to many observers of Western relations with China. Shi Yinhong, an international relations professor at Renmin University in China, described the commitment as “nothing new.”

“International cooperation to contain China is what the Biden administration has been doing since its inauguration, so the joint statement is unsurprising,” said Lee Dong-ryul, a professor of Chinese politics at Dongduk Women’s University located in South Korea. “I think China would retain its original stance as usual, claiming that they are opposed to diplomacy targeting a third country.”

Some of the subjects Biden and Macron addressed included “respect for human rights,” as well as “the importance of maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.” Concerns regarding China’s treatment of Taiwan, a country China still claims it owns, have escalated since Russia invaded Ukraine earlier this year.

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During Macron’s visit to the U.S., Biden also invoked a “shared commitment to liberty” between the U.S. and France, addressing the challenge the two countries have of “facing down Vladimir Putin’s grasping ambition for conquest in Russia and his brutal war against Ukraine, which has once more shattered peace on the continent of Europe.”

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