China’s Xi Visits France Amid Talks on Ukraine with Macron

Paris, France – Chinese President Xi Jinping’s state visit to France hosted by Emmanuel Macron carries significant weight as the French leader aims to caution Xi against supporting Russia in the conflict over Ukraine. Xi’s arrival in France, marking 60 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries, signals his first trip to Europe since 2019. The decision to visit France, as the sole major European power, underscores the warmth in Sino-French relations following Macron’s state visit to China in April 2023 and recognizes Macron’s position as a key EU power broker.

During Xi’s visit, he and his wife Peng Liyuan were greeted in Paris by Prime Minister Gabriel Attal amidst a drizzly day. The visit will include talks with Macron, EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen, and a state banquet at the Elysee Palace. Macron plans to discuss the conflict in Ukraine with Xi, emphasizing the importance of stability in the international order and urging China not to bolster Russia’s military capabilities.

In an op-ed for Le Figaro, Xi expressed his commitment to working with the international community to seek solutions to the Ukraine crisis, affirming that China is not directly involved in the conflict. Macron is expected to address human rights issues with Xi, particularly concerning the Uyghur Muslim minority and press freedom in China. Analysts remain doubtful about Macron’s ability to sway Xi, given Xi’s strong stance and his visits to countries viewed as sympathetic to Moscow in Europe.

Macron’s priorities include warning Xi against arming Russia and addressing market-distorting practices in China. However, the impact of Macron’s messages on Chinese behavior remains uncertain, as Xi’s visit to France is seen as a gesture rather than an attempt to mend ties. Macron’s delicate balancing act between defending strategic interests and engaging with China highlights the complexity of EU-China relations amidst geopolitical tensions. Protests against Xi’s alleged authoritarianism and human rights abuses underscore the challenges faced by Macron in addressing sensitive issues during Xi’s visit.

As Xi and Macron engage in discussions and navigate nuanced diplomatic conversations, the outcomes of their talks may shape the future of EU-China relations and influence dynamics in the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and beyond. Xi’s visit to France serves as a pivotal moment in global diplomacy, highlighting the complexities and challenges of navigating relationships between major world powers.