On his return to Paris from Beijing, the French president Macron gave an interview to Politico which featured unexpected comments on Europe’s relationship with the US vis-à-vis China and thoughts on how the island situation impacts on Europe. While in Beijing, he apparently spent more than four hours on his own with the Chinese leader, and it would be fascinating to get a readout of that conversation. Barring that we know Macron has since been talking about reducing Europes dependency on the US dollar, and taking a more independent line on the island. “The great risk,” he said, is that Europe “gets caught up in crises that are not ours.” There was immediate pushback from Poland, whose Prime Minister said there was no alternative for Europe but a close relationship with the US. Big pieces are moving on the chessboard. But Macron’s comments are particularly puzzling in light of the fact that Europe is currently in the midst of a titanic struggle in Ukraine and US support is obviously crucial in that situation. Perhaps this was the payback for the Airbus purchase agreement signed in Beijing? Does he really mean it?
In other news related to this basic question of the relationship between China and the West, there are signs of investors voting with their feet. SoftBank, the investment fund which funded Alibaba at the start, has been quietly divesting itself of its holdings in the company. Its ownership share has dropped from 34% down to 3.8% today. Warren Buffett, meanwhile has made further sales of his share of BYD. Both companies have reasonable to stellar prospects—certainly BYD has the chance to be biggest auto firm in the world, and Alibaba remains absolutely solid in its position in the China market. But the goal seems to be to reduce exposure to China. Simple as that.
Have a great weekend.