DHis three-day trip from April 5 to 7 was dominated by two figures, ending with President Emmanuel Macron in China, accompanied by European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen’s part of the trip: the war in Ukraine and relations between Europe and Beijing. Neither has progressed. This does not mean that the visit was a failure or ineffective.
In Ukraine, Elysee didn’t expect a big breakthrough and didn’t get one. After President Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow in March reaffirmed the Sino-Russian friendship in which Beijing is the dominant partner, Paris knew China would not condemn a Russian invasion. The illusion of Chinese mediation was also abandoned. On the other hand, it is important to underline the risks involved in the decision to supply arms to Russia, which could push China into the belligerent camp.
Xi Jinping, who claims to be in favor of peace, also had to remind President Volodymyr Zelensky that he was waiting for his invitation. It has been done. The Chinese leader faced his own contradictions when he refused to condemn the use of nuclear weapons in Belarus and spoke officially against the threat and use of these weapons.
Be clear and demanding
The European component is more complex. By proposing to Mme Van der Leyen to accompany him to Beijing, Mr. Macron, keen to give his visit a European dimension, suffered when German Chancellor Olaf Scholz refused a joint visit to China in November. It was a good idea. Apart from the fact that it is more convenient for Chinese leaders to represent 450 million people than 68 million, trade relations are about the EU.
This was calculated without the drawbacks of the Chinese protocol, which reserved all the privileges of a state visit to the French president, privileges that the President of the Commission could not share because the European Union was not a state. Like Russia, China prefers to deal with bilateral states rather than a supranational entity that disturbs it; Ursula van der Leyen’s assertive speech on Chinese power strategy on March 30 is unlikely to satisfy Xi Jinping either.
Can we convince Xi Jinping? After XXe At the Chinese Communist Party Congress, China’s number one is amassing more powers than ever and has made no secret of his ambition to reshape the international order. Despite past failures with Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin, if Emmanuel Macron is confident in the power of his charisma and thinks he can woo the Chinese president, he has no doubt discovered that it will take more than a tea ceremony without a tie in the garden. of Canton to achieve this.
The role of this visit, in fact, goes beyond the personal relations of the two leaders. As its recent diplomatic success with Iran and Saudi Arabia has shown, China is an important partner in the changing global environment.
The European Union, without abandoning its alliance with the United States, wants to assert itself in this context and is beginning to give itself the means to do so. Despite the discomfort and lack of concrete results, Mr. Macron and Mr.me Van der Leyen is right to resume an essential dialogue with China. We must maintain this relationship, if we are clear and demanding.
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