Xi Arrives In France For State Visit As Macron Looks To Persuade China Against Supporting Russia

Chinese President Xi Jinping touched down in France on Sunday for a state visit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron, with discussions set to encompass a spectrum of topics from Ukraine to trade relations. This visit marks 60 years of diplomatic ties between France and China and signals Xi’s first trip to Europe since 2019, including subsequent visits to Serbia and Hungary.

The decision to visit France as the sole major European power comes after Macron’s state visit to China in April 2023. Xi, accompanied by his wife Peng Liyuan, received a warm welcome despite the drizzly weather at Paris Orly airport by French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal, news agency AFP reported.

Scheduled for a day of talks in Paris on Monday, which will also involve EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, Xi is slated to attend a state banquet hosted by Macron at the Elysee. Tuesday will witness a more informal meeting between the leaders in the Pyrenees mountains, a location close to Macron’s heart from his childhood, according to AFP’s report.

Xi, quoted by the Xinhua state news agency upon arrival, expressed his sentiment towards the development of Sino-French relations, saying that the development of China-France relations had “injected stability and positive energy into the turbulent world” and China was ready to “enhance political mutual trust, build strategic consensus and deepen exchanges”.

ALSO READ | Explained: Why Shaksgam Valley, Claimed By India, Was Ceded To China By Pakistan In 1963

Macron To Persuade China’s Xi Against Supporting Russia In Ukraine War

One of Macron’s key objectives is to caution Xi against supporting Russia in its invasion of Ukraine. Western officials are concerned about potential Chinese involvement in supplying arms to Russia, which could further destabilise the conflict. Macron emphasised the necessity of working with China to safeguard the stability of the international order.

“It is in our interest to get China to weigh in on the stability of the international order,” Macron remarked in an interview with the Economist on Thursday.

Furthermore, Macron underscored the importance for Europe to defend its strategic interests in economic dealings with China, criticising Beijing for its disregard of international trade rules. However, he acknowledged the differing opinions within Europe regarding China’s role, with some viewing it primarily as a market of opportunities while others raise concerns about trade imbalances.

Human rights groups urge Macron to address China’s human rights record, particularly concerning the Uyghur Muslim minority and the suppression of journalists. Human Rights Watch emphasised the need for consequences for Beijing’s actions against human rights.

According to AFP, Analysts remain doubtful about Macron’s ability to exert significant influence over Xi Jinping during the visit, given the latter’s strong stance. While Macron aims to convey messages regarding Chinese support for Russia and market-distorting practices, the impact on Chinese behavior is deemed minimal.

Xi’s subsequent visits are to Serbia and Hungary, both perceived as sympathetic to Moscow in Europe.

Leave a Comment