French President Emmanuel Macron said in comments published on Sunday that Europe had no interest in an acceleration of the crisis over Taiwan and should pursue a strategy independent of both Washington and Beijing.
Macron has just returned from a three-day state visit to China, where he received a warm welcome from President Xi Jinping. China began drills around Taiwan on Saturday in anger at President Tsai Ing-wen's meeting with the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy on Wednesday.
China views democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under its control. Taiwan's government strongly objects to China's claims.
Macron said Europe should not accelerate the conflict but take the time to build its position as a third pole between China and the United States in comments to French newspaper Les Echos and Politico made during his visit to China.
"The worst thing would be to think that we Europeans must become followers on this topic and adapt to the American rhythm or a Chinese overreaction," Politico quoted him as saying.
Europe must better fund its defense industry, develop nuclear and renewable energy and reduce dependence on the U.S. dollar to limit its reliance on the United States, both media outlets quoted him as saying.
The joint interview was given on a flight on Friday between Beijing and the city of Guangzhou.
On Friday, an adviser to Macron told reporters in Guangzhou that Xi and Macron had a "dense and frank" discussion on the issue of Taiwan during their meetings.
"The president's feeling is that we should be careful there's no accident or an escalation of tensions (that could lead) to the Chinese going on the offensive," the Elysée adviser said.
Macron traveled to China with a 50-strong business delegation including Airbus and nuclear energy producer EDF, which signed deals during the visit.